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Is the lack of unity going to undermine the opposition?2009-02-20 10:09
In Georgia a "revolutionary underground" is being established - seven committees under the leadership of the National Forum. It will plan acts of civil disobedience. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili. Another association is also intending to implement a similar programme - the "Popular Assembly". The formation of a third alliance has also been announced.
The head of the National Forum Kakhaber Shartava spoke about his plans for establishing non-cooperation committees back in early February. Commenting on his refusal to sign the declaration put forward by the United Opposition, he explained that it did not include an action plan. According to information obtained by GeorgiaTimes, Shartava himself thinks that the removal of Saakashvili and the holding of early elections can only be achieved through the sufficient political activism of the entire population. And this requires "revolutionary cells" in every region of Georgia.
Today Shartava explained that the first committees have already been established. As the Rosbalt news agency reports, in Tbilisi they will be led by the "traditionalist" Gubaz Sanikidze. Each committee will have its own person in charge. In the Didube region - David Soselia, in Chugureti - Georgy Mezurnishvili, in Gldani-Nadzaladevi - Valery Gakhokia, and in Mtatsminda - Irakli Mamaladze.
The leader of the National Forum emphasized that they were only considering the peaceful removal of Mikheil Saakashvili and his team from power. "If we need to, we will picket the buildings housing the state institutions, and we will use all the existing constitutional means in our fight to bring about the president's dismissal," he is quoted as saying by the internet publication "New Region - South Caucasus". In Shartava's opinion, all of this will enable "the proper involvement of the public in the governing of the country".
As Sanikidze, the leader of the Tbilisi network of committees, remarked, the National Forum is also holding consultations about working alongside other parties.
However, his opposition colleagues are pinning their hopes on a different newly-created body - the "Popular Assembly" that they have recently established. According to the internet publication Nasha Abkhazia, it will also organize protest actions this spring. "We need the whole of society to express its opposition to the collapse of the foundations underpinning Georgian statehood, and to take the initiative towards saving the country. In order to solve this tremendous task, we consider it necessary to convene a representative popular assembly as soon as possible," the leader of the Freedom party Konstantin Gamsakhurdia announced the creation of this type of alternative parliament. His idea has been supported by the chairman of the new women's opposition party in Georgia "For Justice and Equality" Guguli Magradze and the head of the Union of Georgian Traditionalists, Akaki Asatiani.
And yesterday The New Region - South Caucasus reported that more than a dozen opposition parties and several thousand ordinary Georgian citizens are henceforth united under the Popular Assembly. The principles behind its formation are not entirely clear because party affiliation doesn't play a role, and any adult Georgian can become a delegate at the body's congresses.
The official aims of the Assembly have been declared as correcting the actions of the government and bringing politicians closer to the people. But it is clear from the speeches made by its architects that both this organization and the committees of the National Forum are trying to wrest control of the levers for governing the state.