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Georgian opposition threatens to unite2008-11-07 09:31
The opposition protest action planned for today, which has been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the suppression of mass protests by the authorities, will not be an extraordinary event for Georgia, local political analysts are convinced. Furthermore, the opposition parties are intending to unite in December.
The protest action of 7th November is more a case of observing tradition rather than a new wave of anti-government protests. This day has already gone down in the country's modern history, along with 9th April (in 1989 Soviet tanks broke up an anti-Soviet rally) and 23rd November - the victory of the ‘Rose Revolution'. Therefore the Tbilisi mayor's office quite sensibly gave opposition members permission to express their discontent on the streets, reminding them that they must not disturb the work of state institutions, burst into buildings, stop traffic etc.
Admittedly, throughout Georgia's modern history all political cataclysms have begun with quite innocuous street actions. So in an interview with the local media the former president Eduard Shevardnadze still imagined that the rally could infringe the law and also recommended that Saakashvili should go out and speak to his people. "If you don't speak to the people, it will end badly for you. It's an axiom," he said.
But the opposition itself does not think that today will decide the country's fate and that the government will meet all its demands. So the leader of the Conservative party Kakha Kukava said yesterday that the democratic forces, including some representatives from the regime, are only planning to unite into one political organization in December. However he added that this will probably not include the Labour party and Nino Burjanadze's party. So Georgia's opposition might become more united than it had been until then, but less united than it could be ideally.
A lack of unity is an inveterate illness afflicting Georgian critics of the regime. The United Opposition is made up of the ‘National Forum', ‘Freedom', ‘We ourselves' movements, the Conservative party, and the following parties: ‘Movement for a united Georgia', ‘Georgia's way', ‘Kartuli Dasi' and the ‘People's Party'. Their ranks, which united on the eve of the presidential election on 5th January, do not include the ‘New Right' party, who put forward their own candidate to be head of state, and the Labour party who refused to support a single opposition candidate. The Republicans have sometimes joined and sometimes left the United Opposition.
And even today appeals by opposition members, who have decided to speak out against the authorities, are highly divergent - to say the least. For example, the leader of the ‘New Right' party David Gamkrelidze is in favour of Saakashvili's resignation, former presidential candidate from the United Opposition Levan Gachechiladze is also demanding the dissolution of parliament, and the Republicans want an early presidential election.
But today the ranks of those taking part in the rally will probably increase. Back in October opposition politicians expressed their hope that they would be joined by political heavyweights: former speaker Nino Burjanadze, former prime minister Zurab Nogaideli and the former ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili. Out of this trio of Saakashvili's former friends, Nino Burjanadze, whom the opposition has still not forgiven for last November, has openly joined the fight against him.