- Opposition says security guaranteed for Saakashvili after he resigns;
- Opposition tells foreign powers not to take sides in crisis;
- Opposition ready to cooperate with police on security during rallies;
- Alliance for Georgia joins rallies’ organizing committee;
A group of opposition parties, behind the planned protest rallies, said President Saakashvili would be given guarantees of personal security after he resigns and called on the international community to observe, but not to take sides in the crisis.
Leaders from more than dozen of opposition parties, which are organizing the rallies from April 9 to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation, met with representatives of foreign embassies in Tbilisi on Tuesday in an attempt to allay fears over possible violence on the side of the opposition.
“Our rallies will be constitutional and peaceful,” Levan Gachechiladze, a former opposition presidential candidate, who is part of organizing committee as an individual politician, said at the meeting. “On our part, we will establish serious control in respect of provocations. We have a serious resource to prevent provocations on the ground and what is most important; I call on all the countries of the world not to interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs. It is up to the Georgian people to decide how to achieve Mikheil Saakashvili’s peaceful resignation.”
Irakli Alasania, leader of Alliance for Georgia, said that the opposition was willing to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies through liaison officers from the both sides to provide security during the rallies.
“During the protest rallies, those people, whom we will instruct to keep an eye on security, will have contact with local law enforcement agencies in order to avoid provocations. This is our desire,” Alasania said.
Alliance for Georgia, which unites Irakli Alasania’s political team; Republican and New Rights parties, announced on April 7, that it was joining the organizing committee and was ready to take its share of political responsibility over the planned rallies and its consequences. The National Forum, the party which was also showing cautious stance on the matter, has also appeared alongside with other opposition leaders on April 7 and said it was also planning to join the rally. The Labor Party was not there.
During the meeting the opposition parties handed over to the foreign diplomats an English-language text of appeal in which they try to justify their move to force the President to resign by blaming Saakashvili for going into war “which he knew was not winnable” and for “depriving his people of elementary freedoms.”
In the appeal the opposition also vows to follow all the procedures that are required by the constitution in case of Saakashvili’s resignation.
“All constitutional guarantees that an ex-President deserves will be applied to him” once Saakashvili resigns, the appeal reads. It also adds that in case of the President’s resignation the government would remain in place and continue exerting its powers and duties; Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, it continues, would call early presidential elections within 45 days as envisaged by the constitution.
In the appeal, the opposition calls on the international community “to refrain from any kind of interference during this crisis… by trying to comfort [the] President.”
“We have gone through that in January, 2008 when our closest friends chose stability over democracy,” the statement continues referring to January, 2008 presidential election, which was described “in essence consistent” to “democratic elections” by the international observers and condemned as fraudulent by the opposition.
The opposition also refers to “northern neighbor” by saying that it should be clear for Russia that “any noise of arms or provocation during this crucial time of transition will be [considered as] a sign of tacit and indirect support to Saakashvili.”
An abridged, Georgian-language press-release about the opposition’s appeal to the international community, omits some elements of the English-language statement that was handed over to the diplomats, such as providing guarantees to President Saakashvili in case of his resignation. According to the Georgian-language press release, during the meeting the opposition leaders offered the foreign diplomats to create “a monitoring center” – similar to the one that the authorities plan in the Interior Ministry – in the public broadcaster to monitor the news coverage of the rallies and political developments.