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Burjanadze Ups the Ante on Former Ally
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Oct.'08 / 14:29

Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary chairperson, stepped up her attack on her former ally, President Saakashvili, telling him to choose between the 2003 “Rose Revolution promises” and “securing your personal power.” 

In an open letter addressed to the president and published in the Georgian daily Rezonansi on October 24, Burjanadze says that early elections “within a reasonable timeframe” is the way out of “the grave political crisis.”

Burjanadze, however, does not specify whether she is referring to early presidential or parliamentary elections. But in the letter she strongly criticizes the sitting parliament as “a fictional body” and “a one-party parliament.”

“The sitting parliament – a fictional body - is unacceptable,” she writes, adding that “the emergence of dissenting opinion and an alternative way of decision-making is actually impossible” in Parliament.

“That very absence of alternative opinion was the cause for your mistakes on which the public now wants answers. That very absence of alternative [opinion] made you think that only a few people know what is right for the country.”

She also says that early elections should be held “only under the conditions of an improved election code, a healthy electoral environment and free media.”

The current election system was endorsed by the previous parliament in March 2008 – just two months before the parliamentary elections – while Burjanadze was the parliamentary chairperson.

Burjanadze, however, claims in the letter that she had been “warning” President Saakashvili against creating an electoral system that would lead to “a one-party parliament.”

Regarding media freedom, Burjanadze writes that control of the broadcast media by the authorities is “unacceptable to society.”

“It indicates that the authorities are politically incapable and are scared of the truth,” she says. “It is a shame that we have to speak about freedom of media on the fifth anniversary of the Rose Revolution.”

“With that you have betrayed the hundreds of thousands of people, who stood beside you in November [2003] to protect that very same value,” she added.

In the letter Burjanadze obviously tries to distance herself from mistakes, she thinks, were made by the authorities at the time when she was also part of the ruling party. She acknowledged that those mistakes have also “damaged” her political career “inside the country.”

“You know very well that I wanted to quit the team several time because of disagreements with you and your political team,” Burjanadze writes. “I knew that it would have been better for my personal political career to distance myself from those decisions which not only did I disagree with but also strongly opposed. I know that my disagreements expressed only within the team and not publicly damaged my political authority inside the country.”

She says that by remaining loyal over recent years, she was trying to influence the decision-making process from the inside.

“I thought that November 7 would have been a bitter lesson for the authorities,” she continues. “Unfortunately, it became obvious that the authorities have failed to learn anything from November 7 and they only started to make superficial, façade changes… Continuation of a revolutionary style of governance was unacceptable for me. Principle disagreements between us about the style of governance and decision-making process made it impossible to remain together in the same political team and as a result I quit.”

Burjanadze also writes that the war, which Georgia lost and which was “followed by cynical propaganda by the authorities,” as well as “unprecedented control over the media and business, aimed at maintaining power” and “a one-party parliament,” makes Georgia even more vulnerable in the face of “increased external threats.”

“Today, when the country still faces the threat of destabilization and when there is an urgent need to overcome the crisis, I have a strong reason to believe that the authorities are not capable of averting another provocation,” Burjanadze writes. “I see clearly that the current authorities’ main priority is to maintain power. Hence, a real threat exists that attempts to maintain power may cause you to make further irreparable mistakes.”

“Moving towards peace and Georgia’s unification is impossible with the same policies, with the same style of governance and with the same political team,” she added.

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