President Saakashvili after addressing UNM rally outside old parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, April 19. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
President Saakashvili told more than ten thousand supporters at the rally of his UNM party in Tbilisi center on Friday that they gathered to “defend our dignity and our homeland”.
“I came into politics not because of taking any official post… and for gaining privileges,” Saakashvili told supporters, who greeted him by chanting “Misha, Misha” and some shouting “long live Misha”. “I came into politics because I love you and because you brought me into the politics; will stand with you and fight with you and live only for you till the end of my life.”
He told the participants of the rally that since coming into power, PM Ivanishvili’s government “has been humiliating, threatening, twisting your arms and sacking you from your jobs.” “But regardless of it, you still came here [at the rally]… There is one thing that some regrettably still don’t understand: money can’t buy everything,” he said.
“We are not here for taking official posts and gaining privileges,” he continued. “The only reason why we are here is to defend our dignity and our homeland.”
“I don’t see angry people here; we came here with love,” Saakashvili said. “The current government is very lucky, because when we were in government we had a very angry opposition – we were optimistic government and we had angry opposition. Now we are optimistic opposition and for some reasons now we have angry government… Let everyone be optimistic.”
“I want to tell the government: today is a wake up call for them [the government] too; yes they bought some lawmakers [apparently referring to those MPs who quit UNM]… but this people and this society is not for sale; society is what matters in Georgia and not those separate traitors and rats who have ran away.”
“You [referring to the government] have the opposition, which loves the country… so we will not let you to betray the country,” he said.
“Lots of people are gathered here and I want to tell the current government: do not deem it as your tragedy; this is your victory too; this is our common victory, because it shows that our people have dignity and combat spirit and we will definitely win,” Saakashvili said.
The UNM rally, which lasted for couple of hours, ended with Georgia’s national anthem after Saakashvili’s speech. UNM’s secretary general and former PM Vano Merabishvili addressed the rally before Saakashvili.
Earlier on Friday it was reported that Merabishvili was going to make the closing speech at the rally and it remained unclear even after the rally started if Saakashvili was planning to show up at the gathering; Saakashvili appeared about hour after the rally started.