Nino Burjanadze, former parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement–United Georgia party, called on the opposition parties to “consolidate” and jointly pressure President Saakashvili to resign through protest rallies.
In a statement released on February 17, Burjanadze said that sensing mounting pressure, the authorities were now trying “to gain time” and were probably considering two possible scenarios for “prolonging grip on power” – either to call early parliamentary elections or a referendum on early presidential polls.
“The both of these ways will lead to legitimization of the current authorities until 2013 [when President Saakashvili’s second term in office expires].” Burjanadze said. “Every new day under the current authorities bears additional threats for the country.”
Irakli Alasania, an opposition politician who presented his team on February 16, as well as most of the opposition parties, agrees that early presidential elections should precede the parliamentary elections. Views, however, seems to differ on how to achieve the early polls. Alasania suggested recently that holding of a referendum asking voters whether they want or not early presidential elections could be an option. Some other opposition politicians, including Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party, said it was “a very good idea.”
Nino Burjanadze said in the statement that neither holding early parliamentary elections first, nor referendum would work.
In case of early parliamentary elections, she said, the authorities would gain favorable results against the background of the current election code, “controlled” television stations and through use of administrative resources.
She also said that in case of parliamentary elections, the authorities would allow the opposition parities to gain more seats than the ruling party in order to then “declare before the world that democratic elections are held and the opposition has won.”
“In fact, it, however, will be the same farce as it was the [May 21, 2008 parliamentary] election,” she continued. “The lack of real opposition [in new parliament] and presence of pseudo-opposition and [ruling party’s] satellite parties [in new parliament] would make it impossible to launch the President’s impeachment process.”
In his recent public statements, Burjanadze used terms “not a real opposition,” “pseudo-opposition” to refer to the political groups within the parliamentary minority, led by the Christian-Democratic Party.
The referendum scenario would not work either, Burjanadze said, because the authorities would spare no effort to achieve desired result and would most probably secure victory with slight margin.
“We see the only real way of changing the situation and saving the country – direct democracy,” she said and continued in an apparent reference to street protest rallies: “The Georgian society should appear before the authorities and by lifting a hand should confirm its firm will to change this incapable and ineffective regime.”
“This is the only way that will lead us to the necessary changes quickly, painlessly and constitutionally,” she added. “We offer all the rational [political] forces in our country to unite around this goal regardless of what kind of political road they have passed through until now.”
Also on February 17, in separate remarks made after meeting with NATO special representative to the South Caucasus, Robert Simmons, in Tbilisi, Burjanadze said that Georgia’s NATO membership “has been postponed for an indefinite period of time, because of our authorities’ policies.”