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Confrontation. Day Two2009-04-13 12:36
The ultimatum given to the president by the opposition forces has now run out. A few hours before this, Mikheil Saakashvili appeared on television once again saying that he did not intend to leave his post until 2013, as well as outlining a series of questions that he was prepared to discuss with the opposition: the economy, the country's security and democratic reforms.
The ruling party made the same proposal even before the start of the protest actions. Why not remind everyone of this, decided Mikheil Nikolaevich. He spoke in a live broadcast from the State Chancellery, where a ceremony was taking place marking the signing of a memorandum for the construction of the Paravani hydro-electric power station by the Georgian government and the Turkish company Anadolu Group.
But Saakashvili, who is regarded as a master PR tactician, decided to cover all the points in one speech. Firstly, he gave a high appraisal of the previous day's events: "I think that yesterday was very important for our democracy. A section of our society expressed its opinion in a way befitting a democratic, highly-cultured, developed or developing European country." But then he noted in passing: "In the next four years, which is the term of my presidency, my government and I intend to build a hydro-electric resource in Georgia on a new scale, which will be the equal of Inguri."
Is that an example of his backbreaking work to overcome the numerous economic problems? "The opinion of every citizen is important to me, I take the problems of each one of us to heart. I know that many people in the country are experiencing extreme hardship and have lost hope in the future. Today our citizens are frustrated precisely by this hardship and lack of prospects. I am also frustrated by this, by the problems facing our country. In order to overcome all this, we need hard work and correct decisions," said Saakashvili.
Dialogue and unity are needed, remarked the president, in order to deal with these difficulties. As the political analyst Irakli Sesiashvili notes, Tbilisi has changed tactics. "In 2007, the authorities' methodology was different. Whereas then the ruling party met the protest actions with aggression, and their rhetoric was also aggressive, we can say that now they have switched to a "pacifying" policy," said Sesiashvili in an interview with GHN. According to him, the authorities are trying to approach the situation "with maximum liberalism". The calculation is clear: the wave of protests will subside by itself. How long can they carry on standing on Rustaveli? And Easter is coming, and every Georgian will go to church on this day, and then to visit their ancestors' graves, so they won't be going to parliament.
But the opposition is not yet intending to back down. The president has ignored the ultimatum, his opponents have ignored another invitation to enter into dialogue. The demonstrators started to converge on parliament for the appointed time of 16.00. In the name of the opposition, the Conservative Kakha Kukava said the following on the second day of the confrontation: "We are starting an action of civil disobedience. Today protests will start from here at 6 pm setting out in two main directions. Some of the protestors, who will be led by the Alliance for Georgia and Levan Gachechiladze, will set off from School No.1 to the Georgian Public Television centre. A second protest headed by the Conservative party, the People's Party and the movement For A United Georgia will head from the Tbilisi Youth Palace to the Avlabari metro station. The remaining opposition parties and protesters will stay here. In this way we will stop traffic not only on Rustaveli Avenue, but also on Kostava Street and on Ketevan Tsamebuli Avenue."