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The parliamentary opposition is in favour of a “velvet referendum”2009-04-02 15:21
The manoeuvring and cartwheels performed by the Georgian authorities and their opponents can confuse any political analyst. So for the moment Georgian experts are refraining from making any predictions, but they all agree on one thing: everything needs to be done to prevent any bloodshed on 9th April. Meanwhile, both the authorities and the opposition are following a tried-and-tested principle: anything goes in order to achieve their goal.
This week the chairman of the parliamentary opposition, Georgi Tsagareishvili, declared that he might leave his party and fraction. But recently he has been a member of so many parties that it is not entirely clear which one he meant. Whether he intends to join the actions planned for 9th April remains to be answered. But Tsagareishvili presented an initiative to collect signatures in parliament. Incidentally, the United Opposition has collected signatures among the population in support of the president's resignation. It has said that it has gathered 100,000. The Alliance for Georgia has held a plebiscite with the same demand. According to preliminary results, of the 402,803 citizens who were asked throughout Georgia, 348,509 were in favour of President
Mikheil Saakashvili's resignation, reports GHN. How many signatures can be collected? Especially since Saakashvili, in spite of the Alliance's ultimatum, has refused to even talk about any referendum on his own resignation.
However, the parliamentary opposition is not thinking outside the "democratic procedures". So with April approaching, it also came up with the idea of collecting signatures. But not from among the people, but among their "servants" - the parliamentarians. Tsagareishvili stated at a parliamentary briefing that he was intending to secure the approval of his colleagues for making a demand to the government to hold a referendum before 1st June 2009 asking the specific question: "Do you want a presidential election to take place in Georgia no later than 1st January 2010?" According to the regulations, if signatures are gathered from a fifth of parliament, which means 30 deputies, this gives them the right to set this into motion.
It will clearly not be difficult for Tsagareishvili to garner this many signatories. Since the main task of the ruling parliamentary majority from the National Movement is to put a brake on all this. And so this would mean that the opposition's demands had apparently been fulfilled, and the president could remain in place until 2010. And by that time the situation in the country will have changed many times over. So a "parliamentary referendum" is another manoeuvre both from the regime and the opposition, it is difficult to say which. The most important thing is for all sides to be satisfied. But then again, both European emissaries, Georgian experts and the Patriarch have already been calling for the intransigent opponents to enter into dialogue.
Will the radical opposition politicians agree to the idea of this "velvet referendum"? For the parliamentary minority, Tsagareishvili's initiative proved quite appropriate. Hence the leader of the Christian Democratic party, Georgi Targamadze, as GHN reports, declared: "We welcome any initiative which could defuse the situation. Therefore I am not ruling out either supporting the proposal, or asking for an amendment to be added." At the same time, Targamadze added that "there will only be point in discussing any initiative if the two radically opposing forces see the need for dialogue and find the resources within them to enter into one."
It must be noted that the authorities have no doubt as to the correct choice of path.