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Another attempt at a united opposition front

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, June 2
The National Forum stated on June 1 that it will hold negotiations with all opposition parties except Zurab Noghaideli's Movement for Fair Georgia in order to establish a united opposition front. Its leader Kakha Shartava said that the party will negotiate with all other parties and public figures interested in changing the situation in the country.

“We are going to use all constitutional means to change the election environment and force special Parliamentary and Presidential elections. We have just attended a performance called 'Local Elections – 2010' which the Government of Georgia made us participate in by splitting the opposition,” Shartava said, stressing that the results of the elections indicate that the opposition still has the possibility to unite against the Government’s intimidation of voters.

The National Forum told media representatives that it would immediately inform them of the results of their consultations and revealed that the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) is among the 10 opposition parties which signed an agreement initiated by the National Forum to change the election environment in our country. Christian Democrat MP Levan Vephkhvadze said that the CDM will also cooperate with all political entities which aim to change the Government through elections. “The CDM signed the National Forum's document several months ago and thus we are ready for cooperation. I think we should start this now, because changing the law will not be enough to improve the election environment in the country. People should understand the changes or they won’t serve any purpose,” Vepkhvadze stated, highlighting that reading the accounts of international observers is also important when addressing the issues raised by the local government elections.

Irakli Alasania, leader of the Alliance for Georgia, also said that the Alliance will hold consultations with the National Forum. He said that the election system needs to be changed and the May 30 elections and the reports of the international missions have provided important evidence of this. Alasania explained that there is no sense talking about pre-term Parliamentary and Presidential elections until the system is improved. “The National Forum has initiated coordination between all opposition parties in order to change the election code before special Parliamentary and Presidential elections can be held in an improved election environment in Georgia,” Manana Nachkebia, member of the Alliance for Georgia, told The Messenger, explaining that the shortcomings in the existing code prevented the opposition getting more votes at the May 30 elections.

Petre Mamradze, co-leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia which the National Forum will not consult with, called Shartava’s appeal a “fallacious approach to this issue”. “We have been acting in a constructive way by calling on everyone to unite for the sake of the people without criticising anyone at all. I think that when an issue concerns people all personal ambitions should be forgotten,” stressed Mamradze.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze approved of the opposition’s decision to start consultations and define their future plans, but added a note of caution. “I generally think that applying formulas (referring to the refusal to cooperate with Zurab Noghaideli) does not achieve results. The reason for this decision must have been Noghaideli’s consultations with Russia and his performance when he was Prime Minister rather than any particular current activity of his. However such splitting may cause further complications within the opposition and adversely affect their integration into one force,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.