Irakli Alasania, ex-defense minister and leader of Free Democrats, said he’s convinced that his opposition party will defeat “de facto prime minister” Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream ruling coalition in next parliamentary elections.
Alasania’s Free Democrats party quit GD coalition after he was sacked from defense minister’s post following a confrontation after one former and four serving MoD and general staff officials were arrested in late October on misspending charges; they remain in pre-trial detention. Alasania says the fact that launch of court hearing was postponed twice upon the prosecution’s request further reinforces his allegations that the arrests and the case are politically motivated, aimed at targeting him.
The entire case was masterminded by “de facto premier Bidzina Ivanishvili,” Alasania said in Rustavi 2 TV’s political talk show late on February 10.
“Ivanishvili knows that they are innocent… but keeps them locked behind bars for months just because to target a political opponent… Ivanishvili copied and continued the worst that was happening during the previous [UNM] government; that is unforgivable mistake and I am convinced that the public will not forgive him this by the next elections,” Alasania said.
“These five innocent persons are personal prisoners of Bidzina Ivanishvili,” he said, adding that he’s ready to debate live on TV on the issue with Ivanishvili.
Alasania said that “informal rule” by Ivanishvili makes decision-making of government ineffective in tackling the problems, including economic issues, which “deteriorate on the daily basis.”
He said that Ivanishvili “should either return back to the government and take responsibility or should completely distance himself from the government.”
“It speaks about what kind of culture of management was introduced by de facto premier Ivanishvili, which is very dangerous for the future of our country,” Alasania said, adding that “it does not make us happy” because it will take much effort of next government, which will come into power as a result of next elections, to compensate for “these wasted years”.
“I am convinced that this government will be replaced as a result of 2016 elections; I am meeting people in provinces in almost every three days, I know their stance and they [Georgian Dream ruling coalition] do not even have a chance in next elections, [no chance] to have a hope for a victory,” Alasania said.
Asked if early parliamentary elections are possible, Alasania responded that “it’s not ruled out,” but it would be very difficult from the procedural and legal point of view to dissolve the sitting parliament and to call snap elections.
“But as we know and information is available about it, they [GD] even want to do that [to have early elections]. But for us, Free Democrats, it is important to observe constitutional terms and to have elections as scheduled. But we are ready for such a challenge [early elections], we expect such a challenge and are preparing based on this [notion] that elections might be held in the nearest future or in autumn,” Alasania said, adding that GD is interested in early elections because problems will further deepen as time goes by and GD’s support will further decline.
He said that Free Democrats are likely to run in next elections independently without going into alliance with any of the political groups.
“We are not talking about any political alliances with anyone. As it seems now Free Democrats will run in the elections alone and we are convinced that we will win. We believe that we are the alternative, which will definitely defeat Bidzina Ivanishvili’s team,” Alasania said.
He also said that Ivanishvili “opened space” for pro-Russian groups in Georgia and added that counter-intelligence agencies are not given go-ahead from political leadership to tackle the issue. He called for banning Russian news television channels in Georgia.