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Saakashvili for Multi-party talks on elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 3
Negotiations on election environment issues, between the authority and the opposition, should start without preconditions - Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia’s attitude was announced by his press spokesperson, Manana Manjgaladze, on November 2.

“The president welcomes negotiations on the election environment in the country and supports all processes that aim to improve the country’s democratic development and advancement. Activities on the issue will start in Parliament in the coming days and the President believes that the negotiations should begin without preconditions,” Manjgaladze said.

8 Georgian oppositional parties: New Rights, National Forum, Georgia’s way, Conservative Party, Republican Party, Christian-Democratic Movement, Our Georgia-Free Democrats and the People’s Party, delivered a common statement on November 1 expressing their readiness to start consultations with the Government for improving the electoral system in the country. Presenting a special address to the Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze, the opposition representatives requested that he set out concrete proposals for the format of talks on this matter as soon as possible and stressed the need for international organisations to participate in the process.

However not all oppositional factions are optimistic about the authority-opposition collaboration on this issue; one of the leaders of the Labour party, Nestan Kirtadze told The Messenger, “We are doubtful about the issue and think that the idea will inevitably break down. I’ll explain why. A month ago, the one party parliament adopted the main law for the country – the constitution, the result of which will aid their plan to remain in power, for at least the next 10-15 years. The current authorities have no political will to adopt something which would hinder their regime.

Analyst, Irakli Sesiashvili told The Messenger, “This is an artificial process with the rules set by the present authority. The government will portray it as their initiative when the tension against them in society increases. When people come out into the streets, the authority will state that it is time for negotiations regarding improving the election environment in the country resulting in differing views among the opposition; some of the opposition will decide to stay and hold protests, while others will sit around the table with the authorities. Using this divide and rule strategy yet again the authority will confuse the opposition, the public and the west. A normal authority does not need ten years to realise that the country has problems or so much time to carry out some measures to resolve them. The authority will continue with this strategy until its term expires.”

According to analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze, “A bad election environment is in the interests of the present authorities. I don’t think any suggestions by the opposition alone will be enough to result in the necessary changes. I believe that the environment can only be changed with the involvement of international communities in the process, or with public demand.”