A televised interview with Levan Gachechiladze, who ran for the presidency, has failed to shed much light on talks underway between the opposition and the authorities.
Speaking live on the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) on January 15, he preferred to say he was “speaking” rather than “negotiating” with the authorities - apparently trying to quell speculation that the opposition was backing down on its demand for a run-off in exchange for various compromises from the authorities.
Although he said that “the demand for a run-off and recount remains in force,” his rhetoric was significantly toned down. He alluded to possible compromise, saying “what we need is free and fair elections and whether it is parliamentary elections or a second round - for me it is very important to have a second round – the election should be free and fair.”
On the forthcoming parliamentary elections, he said: “My wish is to see a single, united strong opposition coalition, with [along with the nine-party coalition], New Rights, Labor Party and others in it, ahead of parliamentary elections.”
Acting President Nino Burjanadze said on January 15 that talks were underway with the opposition on eight issues and on one of them an agreement had already been reached – to set up a new GPB board of trustees. Both the opposition and the authorities have refused to reveal any other details, with the other seven issues remaining unnamed. Both sides fear public scrutiny could scupper the talks. There have, however, been reports that reform of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the judiciary are on the cards.
Gachechiladze appealed for patience, but added a note of defiance, obviously aimed at calming fears of a sell-out among opposition supporters. “What I can say now," he said, "is that there will be no compromise on our part; in terms of results, let’s see what will come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”
He ruled out accepting a government position from Saakashvili, whom he refused to recognize as the legally elected president. “Making deals on government positions is not going to happen. I am one of those who do not recognize [Saakashvili as President],” he said.
Gachechiladze also revealed that “a huge [opposition] protest rally” would be held on January 20 to coincide with Saakashvili’s inauguration. “The venue will be announced later,” he added.
Gachechiladze met with Saakashvili on January 9. He said no further meeting had taken place.