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Opposition Calls for One-Day Rally
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Oct.'08 / 19:20

Levan Gachechiladze, a former opposition presidential candidate, called on supporters to rally on November 7 outside Parliament to mark the one year anniversary of the police break-up of an opposition demonstration.

“This is the day of the fight against violence; this is the day of solidarity,” he said at a news conference outside Parliament on October 20. “Saakashvili should answer for every action through which he harmed Georgia and for the blood that was shed in August [referring to the war with Russia].”

Although only the Conservative Party attended the outdoor press conference dedicating to the announcement of the planned protest rally, some other parties, which were part of the opposition coalition, including the New Rights Party, said they would join the rally. The Labor Party also said it would take part. Republican Party representatives said they would “possibly” join the rally, but internal consultations are still ongoing and the party would only announce its final decision later this week.

Kakha Kukava, the co-leader of the Conservative Party, said that the plan was to hold a one-day protest rally on November 7.

“It, however, does not mean that we will stop at that,” he said, adding that the opposition was launching “a new wave of protest rallies.”

He said that their demands involved democratization, in particular reform of the election code, as well as freedom of broadcast media.

Later on Tbilisi-based radio station Ucnobi FM, Kukava toned down his message, saying the opposition did not want, what he called, a radicalization of political demands.

Although he said that “nothing is ruled out” – when asked if the opposition would demand President Saakashvili’s resignation - he also said: “We should be realists and should not stick to emotional demands.”

Kukava said the opposition wanted a meaningful dialogue with the authorities to try to achieve progress in democratic reforms.

It seems the opposition considers November 7 as a test for themselves. “Although many of our supporters are disappointed and tired and think that we have failed to reach our goals, we should continue this struggle,” Kukava said.

Parties and politicians that make up the parliamentary minority, meanwhile, are skeptical of the proposed protest rallies.

“As long as things remain tense [following the August war], protest rallies, I think, will only contribute to the plans of Putin and Medvedev,” MP Gia Tortladze of the parliamentary minority told the Georgian Public Broadcaster on October 20. Tortladze was a member of the opposition coalition, but split with it after he refused to boycott Parliament.

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