Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary chairman, said that opposition parties planning April 9 protest rally to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation had “cornered themselves” and “see no exit strategy from that corner;” he, however also added that he still hoped those parties would become more constructive after April 9, suggesting that the protest rally would not result in meeting their demand.
Speaking to an audience at the Washington-based Cato Institute on March 24 about the Georgia’s political landscape, Bakradze divided opposition parties into three segments – the one having representation in the parliament; another one - pushing for launch of protest rallies on April 9 to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation, which Bakradze described as “radical opposition” and the third segment, which he said, was showing signs of readiness to have a dialogue with the authorities.
He said that the authorities were “working relatively well with the parliamentary opposition.” Bakradze said that this cooperation was made possible because the parliamentary parties managed to agree “on basic rule – we fight each other politically, which means that we are not damaging the country for the sake of our political career.”
Apart of parliamentary opposition, Bakradze also mentioned “part of the political parties” – which he did not specify – with which, he said, the authorities had “ongoing consultations.”
“They try not to go too far in being radical and [this group of parties] show some signs that they may agree to be part of this open and democratic system,” Bakradze said.
Speaking about “the radical opposition” Bakradze said: “For them it was a major mistake, I believe, to corner themselves by mentioning concrete dates [April 9], by going too far with radical requests.”
“[This] very radical shows no signs of compromise or no signs of willingness to be part of the dialogue at this moment,” he said. “But I hope that even that radical part of opposition will become more constructive after April 9th and I remind you that April 9th is the last date declared by the radical opposition when this government should go and when President Saakashvili should resign and per se it is not something new, because in last three years I can name you four or five different dates when this government had to be ended, but it [the government] is still there.”
“So April 9th is the new date and as I said, I believe that’s the fundamental mistake from the side of the radical opposition to give this specific date, because by that they cornered themselves,” he continued. “What happens when evening of April 9th comes and Saakashvili is still the President and I’m still Chairman of Parliament? What these guys do after? That is the fundamental question and I am afraid they themselves do not have clear answer on that.”
The group of opposition parties behind the planned rallies said that they would launch, what they called, “permanent street demonstrations” from April 9, which, they said, would continue unless President Saakashvili resigns.
When asked from the audience how he would explain “radicalization” of Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary speaker, whose party is among organizers of the planned rallies, Bakradze responded: “I think in her case it may be more or less clear, because she was [for a] long time associated with this government.”
“All her career has been closely associated with the current government, so when she decided to go into the opposition she decided that the way how she could destroy that association and how to find new identity [was] to be very critical to this government. She distanced as much as she could from this government by making very radical statements.”