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The opposition will continue its fight for extraordinary elections22.12.2008 | 09:56
There will not be any extraordinary elections. Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili told his compatriots this in a live TV broadcast. And gave a series of a reasons explaining his position. However they did not convince the opposition...
The president's arguments go as follows: "I won all the elections in which I have taken part, and there will be no new elections before 2013. Now I need to fulfil those promises which I made to the people"; "I have no intention of causing upheaval in Georgia just because some politicians, who are popular among the people but have not entered parliament, are now concerned about their own employment." And most importantly, "the country just doesn't have enough money for elections".
Because of the difficult situation reigning in the country and the approaching financial crisis, Georgia's president is calling for the economy to be saved. "I recently heard someone saying on one of the TV channels that 20-40 million lari are needed to hold an election. No, they cost 1-1.5 billion lari," said Saakashvili.
And he immediately put everything in its place: "You might be prepared to spend 1-1.5 billion lari on solving the problem of 10-15 politicians' employment, but I am not prepared to do this and will not support it." In other words, you can make whatever decisions you want, but the president knows better.
Then a recommendation followed to consult the opinion of local businessmen. He said that then it would become clear once and for all that the only viable decision is to reject the possibility of any elections. "Just ask any businessmen how pleased they would be if there are elections," insisted Mikheil Nikolaevich. "They are terrified of them. New elections mean instability. There are several difficult months ahead when everyone needs to pull up their sleeves and work as hard as they can."
These arguments did not convince the opponents of the current regime. Next week, on 20th December, a series of opposition parties will establish a new coalition, united by a single demand: to carry out first parliamentary, then presidential elections. One of the leaders of the Conservative party Kakha Kukava informed Georgian news agencies of this intention.
What further unions, alliances or tandems will appear on the country's political stage in the near future is a conundrum for even the most venerable analysts. But the crucial thing is that the opposition forces, which have been disparate until now, are ready to look past their differences for a time and work together to achieve regime change by civilised means. Practically all opposition leaders are in agreement about this.
The press centre of the Republican party shared their confidence that yesterday's announcement by Saakashvili can be viewed as a final attempt to keep hold of power. "He understands that after the August events the people would not support him. But he will not be able to frighten, crush or pay off the opposition," the Republicans are convinced. "Whatever happens, elections will take place in 2009. The opposition will make sure of this."
Just how exactly? By once again bringing people out on the streets? And where will they get the money to fund their candidates' participation in the elections?
We asked some representatives of the Georgian opposition to answer these questions.
The Labour party's secretary for ideology Kakha Dzagania: "It is Saakashvili's dream to sit it out until the end of his term. But his dreams and the reality of the situation do not coincide. Elections will definitely take place. Only then will it be possible to emerge from this critical state, both politically and economically, in which Georgia finds itself."
As he noted, the opposition intends to use all the political methods that it legally has at its disposal. If they don't help, then rallies and protests will be organized. As far as financing is concerned, Dzagania recommended that other representatives of the ruling regime should misuse the budget less frequently. "If they stop robbing us for a whole month, there will be enough money to hold elections," he stressed.
The Labour secretary regards the president's comment on businessmen as, at the very least, strange: "They know full well how much elections cost, because every time Saakashvili just robbed them to carry out his election campaign, and anyone who didn't agree was forced to leave the country. That's why many businessmen are simply scared of supporting the opposition." Dzagania thinks that Washington, Brussels and Moscow should support the initiative to hold extraordinary elections in Georgia, since they are all interested in peace in the Caucasus.
The general secretary of the Tavisupleba party (‘Freedom', led by Konstantin Gamsakhurdia) David Bardavelidze noted that the opposition parties are holding consultations among themselves about a possible union. "It is very difficult to agree on some issues. Many people have their own vision of Georgia's future development, there are disagreements in the parties' programmes. Now we are united by one demand - to carry out extraordinary elections," he said.