Elections should be held in autumn, 2008 and not in spring as demanded by the opposition – this is the position of President Saakashvili, parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, said after talks with the opposition leaders.
“Our position about the elections date is very clear,” she said. “It will be right to hold elections in autumn from the point of view of the country’s interests. This is the position of the President and our team.”
She also said that she had clarified the issue with the President after talks with the opposition. Koba Davitashvili, the leader of Party of People, told Civil.Ge after Burjanadze’s statement, that the opposition wanted President Saakashvili “to personally come out and express his position.”
MP Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party; Salome Zourabichvili, the leader of Georgia’s Way party; Tina Khidasheli and MP Davit Berdzenishvili, both from the Republican Party; MP Koka Guntsadze of the Movement for United Georgia and Levan Gachechiladze, a non-partisan lawmaker, met with the Parliamentary Chairperson in the evening on November 2.
MP Giga Bokeria, an influential lawmaker from the ruling National Movement Party; Maia Nadiradze, the parliamentary majority leader and Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani also attended the meeting.
Opposition leaders said after the meeting that they requested the Parliamentary Chairperson to convey the opposition’s demands to President Saakashvili.
“She told us that she would do so and let us know about the President’s position,” Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party told reporters after the talks. She also said that Machavariani and Burjanadze did not spoke much about their own position regarding the opposition’s demands.
“Bokeria and Nadiradze, however, made it clear that they were not going to compromise on the elections date,” Khidasheli added.
Giga Bokeria, however, told reporters after the talks that the parliamentary chairperson put forth her position “very clearly and it is a lie that she did not express her position.”
He also said that the opposition leaders “came not for a dialogue, they came here with ultimatums; they did not want dialogue, at least for now.”
Parliamentary speaker, Burjanadze, also pointed out after the talks with the opposition that “decisions can not be made in the light of ongoing protest rallies and when opponents use the language of ultimatums.”
“This is an ultimatum when they [the opposition leaders] tell us: you should consider all of our four demands, otherwise there is no need in dialogue,” Burjanadze said.
Ten-party opposition coalition pushes for four demands:
• Holding of parliamentary elections in spring 2008, instead of late 2008;
• Creation of new election administrations with representatives from political parties;
• Change of the current majoritarian election system – a first-past-the-post, “winner takes all” system;
• Release of “political prisoners” and “prisoners of conscience,” referring to Irakli Batiashvili.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of protesters continue rallying outside the parliament.
Davit Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party told reporters after the meeting with the Parliamentary Chairperson that the society’s demands were “more radical” than those of the opposition.
Officials said 25,000 people were gathered on November 2. Opposition leaders have claimed over 100,000 protesters rallied; other estimates varied from at least 50,000 to 70,000.
As expected, number of protesters has decreased by the end of the day; however, opposition has vowed to continue protests on a daily basis unless the President Saakashvili meets all of their four demands.