A “revolution of compromising material” instead of a Rose Revolution10.03.2009 | 16:28
The ultimatum given to Saakashvili by the "Alliance for Georgia" has passed. Since this deadline, the leader of the alliance, Irakli Alasania, has declared that they have decided to respond to "Saakashvili's cynical attitude towards democratic values" by organizing a plebiscite. At the same time, another coalition - the "United Opposition" - is already gathering signatures from among the people in support of the president's resignation. The authorities are expecting the following steps from opposition parties, who have still not learnt how to keep pace with each other.
The leader of the "Alliance for Georgia", Irakli Alasania, returned to Tbilisi from his European trip the day after the deadline by which time the ultimatum was meant to be acted upon, and told journalists at a press conference about his meetings in Brussels, so the GHN news agency reports. As far as the alliance's "post-ultimatum" plans are concerned, they do not contain anything unexpected. Alasania explained the authorities' refusal to hold a referendum on an early presidential election by pointing to "Saakashvili's inadequate perception of reality and his lack of political responsibility", and declared that a plebiscite would be held.
It is difficult to say how the collecting of signatures in support of Saakashvili's resignation started by the "United Opposition" on 4th March differs from the plebiscite announced by the alliance. Even Alasania's explanations haven't clarified the situation. "Collecting signatures among the population will only be one of the forms that the plebiscite will take. Then we will start to publicly monitor the state bodies," GHN quotes Alasania. At the same time, the plebiscite could turn into an action of indefinite length. "We are not restricting ourselves to any concrete time-frame for holding the plebiscite," noted another representative of the alliance, the Republican leader David Usuapashvili.
The leaders of the alliance are not against joining other opposition forces who supported the ultimatum put forward by the leader of the "Georgia's Way" party, Salome Zurabishvili. Hence, at the aforementioned press conference, Irakli Alasania affirmed: "The alliance will join the protest action planned for 9th April if an agreement is reached with political forces and the organizers of the rally over a joint action plan". It turns out that the eight parties which supported Zurabishvili's ultimatum do not have a joint action plan. Which means that the illness affecting the Georgian opposition, which has failed to unite over recent years, has turned into a chronic affliction. Therefore it's still difficult even to guess how events will unfold.
Koba Narchemashvili, who was interior minister during Shevardnadze's rule, has for example told the Georgian media the following: "If we take into account the mentality and character of the Georgian electorate, both Alasania and Burjanadze have opportunities. But events are unlikely to unfold as they think they will." At the same time, Narchemashvili emphasizes that if events switch to the streets, the person who feels comfortable in street actions will be the one to "take command of the parade". "However, I'm sure about one thing: there will not be a repeat of what happened in November 2003. There won't be a velvety handing over of power... And the police will not be loyal to the demonstrators," warns Narchemashvili.
For the time being, experts are not commenting on the scandalous statement made by the former interior minister. Although many Georgian analysts agree that the return to Georgia of the former defence minister, Irakli Okurashvili, will end up radicalising forces on the political stage. As the Georgian media report, the press office of the "Movement for a United Georgia", which is headed by Okurashvili, already declared that he would be addressing the population on 8th March.
At the same time, reports have emerged that Okurashvili's return is possibly part of the action plan of the Georgian authorities. As the Pirveli news agency reported, last week the political émigré Okurashvili apparently met the Georgian Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, and the chairman of the parliamentary defence and security committee, Givi Taragmadze, in Paris. Along with directing criticism at Saakashvili, it is said that the former defence minister is intending to release compromising material on the other aspiring candidates for the presidential post- Nino Burjanadze and Irakli Alasania. Okurashvili's party has already called these reports "cheap PR" from the country's leadership.
So then, when the question of power is at stake, it is difficult both for the hostile parties, and within each of the actual camps, to come to an understanding. Any means come into play - controversial statements and compromising material. So the upcoming changes within the country can essentially be called "the revolution of ultimatums and compromising material".