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Is an alternative parliament being established in Georgia?2008-12-24 15:44
The leaders of three opposition parties - the traditionalists, ‘Freedom' and the women's party ‘For justice and equality' have decided to establish a Popular Assembly in Georgia. "It can be regarded as an alternative to parliament. The assembly will present its decisions and recommendations to the executive," said the head of the women's party Guguli Magradze.
The three leaders - Konstantin Gamsakhurdia (the son of Georgia's first president, from the ‘Freedom' party), Guguli Magradze (former deputy for the pro-presidential majority, from the women's party) and Akaki Asatiani (‘The Union of Georgian traditionalists') made their announcement about the establishment of a new agency for popular representation the day before during a political action on the square in front of parliament. This event was timed to coincide with the seventeenth anniversary of the "Tbilisi war".
Back then, on 22nd December 1991, an armed confrontation began between supporters of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the opposition supported by Eduard Shevardnadze. The central streets of Tbilisi and the square by parliament turned into a field of battle. Shots resounded there for 15 days. According to official figures, more than 100 people died.
Since then the two squares in the centre of the capital - Liberty and by the parliament - have experienced a number of tumultuous events: rallies, protest actions, the ‘Rose Revolution', the November rally of last year when the regime used clubs and tear gas against the opposition. But there hasn't been any shooting since that initial event.
The son of Georgia's first president, who was in power during the "Tbilisi war", thinks that now the country needs to be saved. "The country is in a situation where there is a question mark over its continued existence. The whole of society needs to express its opposition to the collapse of the foundations of Georgian statehood and take up the task of saving the country. In order to solve this overwhelming task, we consider it necessary to convoke a representative Popular Assembly within the shortest possible time," Konstantin Gamsakhurdia appealed on the square.
It should be noted here that following last year's November events he was accused of collaborating with the Russian intelligence services and criminal proceedings were brought against him. The authorities acted in the same way with his younger brother Tsotne Gamsakhurdia (alluding to the articles on "a plot or revolt with the aim of violently overthrowing the constitutional order" and "espionage"). Tsotne was arrested in a Georgian airport in September this year and was released on a large bail. A whole series of other opponents of the regime have been subjected to prosecution based on similar invented accusations.
So Konstantin Gamsakhurdia's indignation about the current situation in his country is entirely understandable. It was also not unexpected that he has started to work alongside the leaders of the traditionalists and the women's party.
The Georgian media have reported that consultations between these political forces have been going on for the last few months. According to existing information, the leader of the "National Forum" Kakha Shartava also took part in them, but later the party's press office released a statement categorically denying this, as well as its intention to unite with any opposition politicians.
But for Guguli Magradze this is her first foray into such affairs. Her joining of the opposition last November was unexpected. She was considered an influential figure in parliament, moreover the press had been reporting that Magradze was close to the president's family.