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Opposition Six to Become Opposition Five?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 20
Despite the fact the other five opposition parties from the so-called "Opposition Six" approve of the National Forum’s decision on holding the protest rally known as the 'March of the Georgians', some kind of disagreement is quite obvious regarding the issue. Speculation is rife that the Opposition Six grouping will soon self-combust or will lose one member, namely the National Forum. At the same time there is debate over why the National Forum chose September 27 to hold the march.

According to the most recent statement made by the head of the National Forum, Gubaz Sanikidze, the march will not be a reason for confrontation within the Opposition Six. “The coalition is based on thematic unity and the march will not provide any reason for any kind of confrontation within the Opposition Six,” Sanikidze said, adding that the group is focussed on changing the electoral environment.

The rest of the five opposition parties in the group also underline that the Forum’s decision should not spoil the situation within the coalition, however, at the same time they state some differences with the National Forum and that the latter has a dislike of some member parties of the grouping.

As the leader of the Conservative Party Zviad Dzidziguri said, the Forum’s decision was an unexpected surprise for the parties in the “Opposition Six”. He thinks that the Forum should have to hold the planned event independently.

“We heard about the decision of the Forum about the “March of the Georgians” through the media. This is an issue for their party and we don’t disapprove of it, but I think that by holding such types of events separately we’ll confuse society, so it’s time to make clear the form the political “six’ intends to continue its activity,” he said.

Dzidziguri doesn’t specify whether the “Six” will become the “Five”. He says that in the near future the parties will decide how they are going to work and if there is no desire to work together, the public must be informed about it.

Leader of the People’s Party, Koba Davitashvili, went deeper and highlights the shortcomings of the upcoming march, at the same time he spoke about some differences with the Forum in an interview with the newspaper Versia. As he states, "the march is just a sign of protest, without concrete demands and possible outcomes. Of course, this is one of the forms of political fighting, however we prefer concrete results." Davitashvili also stated that the Opposition Six wanted to broaden its framework and to unite on social issues, together with the electoral environment theme: "only the National Forum stated that the Opposition 6 be united only around the electoral environment issue.” Despite all this, Davitashvili underlined that opposition unity is the most important thing and that the National Forum would go on fighting within the Opposition Six, as before.

As analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze states the aim of the demonstration is to show the National Forum's power as one, separate and concrete party, “if the Forum wanted to be simply in a protest mood, it would agree with some other political parties, however it did not behave like this.”

An analyst of conflict issues, Gia Volski, hopes that the current situation does not mean confrontation, “as the National Forum has always had its specific and different views, meaning giving special privilege to national issues, it wants to underline that the party takes an especially nationalistic course in Georgian politics one more time," Volski stated and underlined that if the opposition fails to unite, it would be negative not only the opposition but for all of Georgian society. Volski also paid attention to the date when the march is planned, “September 27 is the date when Sokhumi fell and protesting should not have a confrontational character. It should recall this tragic day. If the march has any anti-Abkhaz connotation, it would be a great strategic mistake from the National Forum’s side and a sign that somebody had started an inappropriate strategy towards Abkhazia.”