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Opposition Presses for Tangible Results
/ 5 Feb.'08 / 21:45
Civil Georgia

Opposition negotiators said after the second round of talks with the ruling party on February 5 that they wanted “concrete results” and not just “empty words.”

“The process is being dragged out,” Koba Davitashvili, leader of opposition Party of People, said. “On the one hand, there are signs that we are closer to an agreement on some issues that need legislative amendments and in turn need time. But we are also putting forward issues that take little or no time, like the dismissal of [public TV General Director Tamar] Kintsurashvili and [Central Election Commission Chairman Levan] Tarkhnishvili and the release of political prisoners [referring to those arrested during the November 7 unrest for disobeying police orders and attacking law enforcement officers]. We want to see these issues resolved in a very short period of time.”

Tina Khidasheli of the opposition Republican Party said after the talks that although agreement had been reached on some issues, the opposition needed tangible results. The tentative agreements reached so far relate to the abolition of the first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all system for the election of majoritarian MPs and a constitutional amendment stipulating that the cabinet resign automatically after parliamentary elections. These issues, however, require time, as legislative amendments are required.

“We want to see concrete results,” Khidasheli said. “We want something to show people that it is possible to trust the authorities. So far, however, the authorities have not delivered on their promises, so it is too early to speak of trust. The next meeting will take place when the authorities make concrete decisions [about our demands]. We expect resolution, and not just words.”

MP Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party said: “There are promises, but no concrete steps have been taken.”

MP Pavle Kublashvili, a ruling party negotiator, explained the delay, saying the authorities wanted first to discuss all the issues raised by the opposition and only then to start undertaking concrete action on agreed issues.

Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani, also a negotiator from the ruling party, meanwhile, welcomed the second round of talks as “yet another step forward” but declined to give details.

The first round of talks was held on February 1. The series of negotiations follows a joint memorandum by the twelve opposition parties outlining 17 demands, which they say, should secure free and fair parliamentary elections this spring. The opposition has warned that protest rallies would be launched starting from February 15 if their demands are not met.

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