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Gachechiladze still keeping everyone guessing

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, March 10
"I need some time to observe what is happening concerning the local elections before making an appropriate decision about participating in them," Levan Gachechiladze, leader of Defend Georgia, told the media on March 9. “A really wise decision needs to be taken in order to hasten the end of the current Government. Whether it stays or not is the main problem for Tbilisi and Georgia as a whole,” he said, stressing that he will hold consultations with all interested political parties on this issue.

How Gachechiladze wants to cooperate with the rest of the opposition parties remains unclear. The parties which intended to hold primaries but will now conduct an opinion poll to select a joint opposition candidate say they welcome Gachechiladze’s involvement in the process but stress that it is up to him to name his candidacy for the Mayoral elections. “Our door is open for everyone. We will welcome Gachechiladze’s decision and hope that he will not declare himself an independent candidate and fight against the agreed joint opposition candidate. We will also cooperate with the Republican Party, which seems to be taking the main decisions within the Alliance for Georgia,” Koba Davitashvili, the leader of People’s Party stated. Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party, said that it has already finished its own consultations on this issue and is already involved in the election process.

“We were previously informed that Levan wasn’t planning to participate in the elections, but if he has changed his mind he should say so quickly and clarify what he intends to do. The public must be tired of all these opposition disputes over whether to have a joint candidate or not,” Manana Nachkebia, member of the New Rights, said.

“It’s up to Levan to take a decision and announce it. We welcome any opposition candidate who can defeat Gigi Ugulava, the current Mayor of Tbilisi, and hope that everything will be just as the Georgian public wants it to be,” Kakha Kukava, co-leader of the Conservative Party, told the media after consultations with Gachechiladze. Kukava said he was no longer interested in Irakli Alasania’s position on this. “We have our own way and our goal is to win the elections. Alasania will see the results on May 30,” he stated. Alasania himself, the leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats which is part of the Alliance for Georgia alongside the Republicans and New Rights, highlighted the merits of Gachechiladze in previous opposition campaigns. “We should agree that we have to support one another in identifying the joint candidate. We should destroy the stereotype that nothing can be achieved by means of elections. It is important that the voters come out to support the opposition candidate and increase our chances of victory,” said Alasania.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili has said that the continuing disputes between the opposition parties will have a negative effect on the election campaign. “The opposition unity achieved in previous years has been a step forward in the formation of the political culture of Georgia. It is important that all political parties try to fully express their concerns on the most burning issues in the country by stating their clear opinions and conducting transparent actions to make the voters aware of their general vision. I must admit that I find it difficult to identify what Levan Gachechiladze’s concerns about the election are. He has said he will support Alasania if all the other opposition members do the same, but first he has to explain what he means by “all.” I think Gachechiladze has to work out his plans first and than share them with people,” Tsiskarishvili said.