Opposition trying to unite at the last moment
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, May 28Tbilisi City Council candidate for Vake Kakha Kukava withdrew in favour of Davit Saganelidze from the Alliance for Georgia on May 26. Kakava, Co-leader of the Conservative Party which is the part of the National Council, said that “My decision is a response to the results of public opinion polls which show that Saganelidze has more chance.”
The Conservative Party appealed to other opposition parties and candidates to withdraw in similar circumstances in order to assure the voters that their preferred opposition candidate has a chance of winning against a ruling party candidate. Zurab Khutsishvili, the Party of the Future candidate for Vake, had withdrawn his candidacy in favour of Davit Saganelidze several days previously, also saying that his decision had been prompted by the desire to increase the chances of the opposition because Georgians should always support one another.
Inga Grigolia, candidate for Chairmanship of the City Council from the Christian-Democratic Movenent (CDM), called Kukava’s step "absurd". “If Kukava had wanted to withdraw his candidacy in favour of Saganelidze he should have done it much earlier, because his name will be on the ballot paper anyway as the final date for withdrawal was May 20,” Grigolia told the media. She stressed that the candidates should offer different campaigns to the people and talk about uniting within the City Council after the elections if they want to have an opposition Chair. “Our candidates are very loyal people who know exactly how to resolve the crisis in the country. I personally think that none of the political parties has presented such a perfect election campaign as the CDM has,” she added. The CDM advised voters to make their choice on the basis of party, not leader. “I would like to tell everyone that the direction of politics is determined by the people, who tell the politicians what they want them to do, not the politicians themselves. These elections will be historic, as their participants are people born in free and democratic Georgia,” Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the CDM, said.
On May 27 the Georgian Academy, consisting of prominent Georgian public figures, encouraged residents of Tbilisi to support Irakli Alasania, the Mayoral candidate of the Alliance for Georgia. The members of the Academy called on citizens to make a wise decision on May 30 and thus create a basis for changing the exsisting political situation. “We, the authors of this appeal, state that we support Irakli Alasania at the local elections because he is the only real opposition candidate, and we encourage each citizen to do the same,” said its statement.
Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labour Party, called on Tbilisi electors to reject Gigi Ugulava, Mayoral candidate of the ruling UNM, as he is "President Saakashvili’s criminal twin". Natelashvili expressed regret that the other opposition parties have not supported the Labour Party's boycott of the elections.
Meanwhile the 25-member EU Monitoring Mission met Zurab Kharatishvili, Chairman of the Central Election Commission on May to familiarise themselves with the situation in various electoral precincts. Kharatishvili expressed the full readiness of the whole CEC staff to hold fair and transparent elections. At his meeting with the EU delegation Davit Bakradze, Chair of Parliament, said that the Government of Georgia has successfully implemented all the reccomendations made by the international community after the Georgian elections of 2008. “We are interested in giving international observers an opportunity to monitor the elections. I hope their opinions [about the election process] will be positive, because we are doing our best to ensure we hold free and democratic elections which correspond with international standards,” Bakradze stated.