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Georgia: springtime political marathon2009-03-06 16:19
The 10-day ultimatum declared by oppositional Alliance for Georgia is expiring today. Georgian authorities rejected its main demand for a referendum on new presidential elections to be held within two months. The opposition started collecting signatures urging Saakashvili's resignation. Georgian media report the authorities are ready to respond to the opposition with the special forces.
"Our priority is provision of security and economic development in the country, while new elections and a referendum will hamper that", - Akaky Minashvili, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on External Relations, stated. "Elections and a referendum are contrary to the interests of the society", - his phrases are quoted by VZGLYAD.
There is little hope in Tbilisi that president will voluntarily resign and hold a referendum on his own resignation.
A day before the expiration of the ultimatum there appeared special boxes near Tbilissi metro stations where all who wanted could put a ballot paper demanding resignation of the president. It is written on the boxes: "Let's save Georgia together, Saakashvili - to resign". The United Opposition comprising eight parties is the action's initiator.
Sources in the opposition told VZGLYAD newspaper that the "box action" would continue on a larger scale. The oppositionists remark that for the first day of the action - March 4 - 25 thousand ballot papers were received with names, surnames and phone numbers of the participants on them.
Alliance for Georgia that is not part of the United Opposition is going to open a "second front". The further steps will be announced tomorrow, as Interfax reports. Meanwhile the alliance has already proposed to hold a plebiscite in case the authorities refuse to call a referendum. It is not clear yet whether the alliance will support actions announced by other oppositional forces or whether it will join them later. Irakli Alasania, the Alliance leader that according to local and foreign experts is the main presidential candidate, is now holding consultations with the EU officials. He has already met with the EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy Xavier Solana.
Meanwhile eight opposition parties favored the ultimatum of ex Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili, now the leader of "Way of Georgia" opposition party. If the president does not resign before April 9 they promised meetings and protest actions.
It should be acknowledged that the forecasts have proved true: Georgian spring is really going to be hot.