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Group of Eight Lays Out Action Plan
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Jun.'11 / 20:37

With electoral reform talks remaining stalled, the group of eight opposition parties said it was launching a campaign to build public support behind its election system proposals.

The campaign, the groups said, would aim at increasing public awareness about its electoral proposals and preparing ground for street protests to mount pressure on the authorities if needed in the process.

The group of eight opposition parties, or group of eight, is an informal coalition, not an electoral bloc, which has an agreement to speak with one voice with the authorities only on electoral-related issues.

In a joint statement released on June 7, the group of eight accused the ruling party of showing no readiness to follow the path of mutual compromises and agreements over electoral system reform.

Last month the group of eight called on the authorities to give its written response on the proposals the group put forth in April, by the end of May. The ruing party made it clear at the time that it had no intention to do so as no deadline - the end of May - as claimed by the opposition was set when the parties were launching talks last November.

As part of the plans, after the public awareness campaign, the group of eight intends to carry out a large-scale public opinion survey - plebiscite, as the group itself describes it.

The plebiscite, which the group tentatively plans for early autumn, will include "door-to-door visits to each and every family" to ask them if they support or not those proposals, which the group of eight has put forth, Davit Usupashvili, the leader of Republican Party, said.

In parallel to this process, the group of eight plans to develop a legislative bill based on its electoral reform proposals and submit it for consideration to the Parliament.

"Our proposals submitted to the Parliament, after the plebiscite, and backed by peaceful demonstrations in the street - that's one of the culminations, which this process will have," Usupashvili told Civil.ge on June 7.

In the statement the group of eight also said that "if the authorities are ready to take adequate decisions on concrete issues, we will be part of such decisions, as well as of process of thier implementation."

The previous time when the group of eight used such wording in its joint statement the ruling party condemned it as an ultimatum.

"Our goal is to give the people opportunity to change the government peacefully through holding of free elections or, in case of falsification of elections, through non-recognition of results of such elections by the international community," the group of eight said in the joint statement on June 7.

"These goals can be achieved through: a) active engagement of Georgian citizens mobilized for protection of thier rights not only at one location, but at all 3,500 polling stations; b) support of international democratic community towards holding of fair elections," the group of eight said.

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