Gubaz Sanikidze, an opposition politician from National Forum, said his party would not be among organizers of the May 26 protest events in Tbilisi, citing “tactical differences” with some of other opposition parties.
He declined to specify either those differences or parties with which the National Forum disagreed on the matter. On May 26 – the Georgia’s Independence Day – opposition plans a large-scale rally on the national stadium. Gubaz Sanikidze said that his party would join the event, but not in a capacity of co-organizers. National Forum is among those about dozen of opposition parties, which are behind the ongoing protests, which started in Tbilisi on April 9.
Speaking in Maestro TV’s talk show, Cell No. 5, after midnight, Sanikidze said that his party had strongly decided to make major focus on the provinces starting from May 27.
“We should launch something new after May 26,” he said. “Tbilisi has exhausted its resource and it is clear everything about Tbilisi: it is anti-governmental and there is nothing Saakashvili can do to regain Tbilisi… Tbilisi is the opposition’s stronghold. But situation is difference in the provinces.”
He said that regular campaigning in the provinces and delivering the opposition’s message to the locals in the region, where, he said, the authorities had an advantage mainly through its “propaganda TV stations” was the opposition’s key goal. He said that it was only possible to challenge the authorities’ “TV propaganda” through directly meeting with locals.
“In the regions we should create discomfort to Saakashvili similar to the one we have already created in Tbilisi,” Sanikidze said and added that it required a preparatory work at first on the ground. “It is possible to mobilize protest momentum on the ground in provinces within a month.”
He also said that the National Forum pushed the issue during a routine meeting between the opposition parties, which are organizers of the ongoing protests.
“My colleagues from other opposition parties mainly share this approach, but I have an impression that they do not fully understand importance for provinces,” Sanikidze said.
He said that his party would embark the campaign no matter what would other parties decide. Sanikidze said that Levan Gachichiladze, an opposition politician and one of the key figures behind the ongoing protests, was fully sharing the National Forum’s position and had agreed to join it in the campaign.
In the same talk show Levan Gachechiladze, who joined the conversation later, said that this decision of making focus on the regions did not mean either giving up protesting in Tbilisi or removing ‘town of cells’ from the capital city.
During the talk show Gubaz Sanikidze had strongly denied speculation that the National Forum was “defecting” from the rest of opposition. This decision, he said, did not mean difference over the main goal – resignation of President Saakashvili.
Irakli Alasania, the leader of Alliance for Georgia, also said late on May 25 that the opposition needed new tactic, which would involve a three-pronged approach with one of the component including active campaign in the provinces.