'I Met with Saakashvili' Gachechiladze
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 11 Jan.'08 / 00:31

The main opposition presidential candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, said he had met with his rival, incumbent Mikheil Saakashvili, on January 9 and had told him that he would continue to insist on a run-off.

Speaking live on a late-night political talk show, Primetime, aired by Rustavi 2 TV on January 10, Gachechiladze said: “I met Saakashvili yesterday, because I am concerned with the fate of my country and I explained to him that it is absolutely unacceptable to have confrontation between the authorities and the people.”

Gachechiladze also said that acting President Nino Burjanadze had “played a key role” in arranging the meeting.

“Nothing concrete was discussed; I only stressed how to prevent civil confrontation,” Gachechiladze said. “I said that the risk of tension and instability was high with the continuation of injustice.”

He refused to give further details, but said he wouldn't cooperate with Saakashvili because of “existing injustice.”

By “injustice,” he meant opposition allegations of election result manipulation, especially through the alleged falsification of vote summary protocols.

Gachechiladze said that the only way out of the current impasse was to hold a run-off.

"I will be the first to congratulate Saakashvili if he wins the second round, but he has no right to assume the presidency after the first round," he said. “I call on supporters to gather at Republic Square [in downtown Tbilisi] on January 13 at 2 pm to protest this injustice. There is no other way. We can not tolerate injustice.”

He also said that he was willing to assume responsibility for the consequences of his call for protests. “It is absolutely unacceptable to return” to the early 90s when Georgia was engulfed in civil strife, he said. “But existing injustice is a major source of confrontation and Georgia is currently on the verge of this civil confrontation, so injustice should be removed.”

He confirmed he had also met with other opposition candidates: Davit Gamkrelidze, Shalva Natelashvili and Irina Sarishvili. Gachechiladze said he had no plans to meet tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. “He has made too many mistakes and he no longer counts,” he said. Patarkatsishvili was formally charged on January 10 by prosecutors with plotting a coup and terrorist acts.

Meanwhile, Gachechiladze and the three opposition candidates he met, have jointly called for a run-off, claiming that the election results were manipulated by the authorities to secure an outright Saakashvili victory in the first round.

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