President Saakashvili and opposition leaders will meet at 2pm local time on Monday, over a month after the launch of street protest rallies.
Irakli Alasania, leader of Alliance for Georgia; Salome Zourabichvili, leader of Georgia’s Way; Kakha Shartava, leader of National Forum and Levan Gachechiladze, an individual opposition figure and a former presidential candidate in last year’s early polls, will take part in the meeting.
In a statement released on Sunday the President’s office said: “The Georgian President has reaffirmed for several times his readiness to meet with any political force. President Saakashvili is offering organizers of the [protest] rallies to meet Tomorrow, May 11, at 2pm.”
“Mikheil Saakashvili expresses hope that the authorities will be able to overcome existing problems in the country through joint efforts with all the political forces,” it says.
Later on May 11, President Saakashvili is also expected to meet a group of lawmakers from the parliamentary minority – “a moderate opposition,” as the authorities call them. Lawmakers from the parliamentary minority said that they intended to put forth proposals on constitutional reform. Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, said last week that the authorities were offering the opposition to set up a commission to work on draft of new constitution, wherein powers of the Parliament would increase at the expense of the presidential powers.
Some opposition leaders, including Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary speaker, as well as those from Alliance for Freedom, have said that they would not participate in a meeting with the President as they saw such meeting senseless. They, however, also said that their position did no way mean challenging unity of the opposition forces and that they would not impede in anyway a meeting between other opposition leaders and President Saakashvili.
“I believe that this meeting is part of Saakashvili’s tactic to drag-out the process,” Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, leader of Party of Freedom, part of Alliance for Freedom, said on Sunday.