Monday, May 26, 2008

Opposition Leader Calls on Church not to Engage in Political Mediation

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 May.'08 / 13:19

Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party – part of the nine-party opposition bloc – said the authorities were trying to convince opposition leaders and figures to give up plans on boycotting, including through “bribery and intimidation” and also claimed that attempts were underway by the authorities to involve in the process the Georgian Orthodox Church.

“The state machinery was put into operation as soon as we had announced about our plans to boycott the new parliament,” Gamkrelidze said at a news conference on Sunday. “There attempts to bribe, terrorize and intimidate, including some leaders as well.”

He has also claimed that the authorities were trying to convince the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, to call on the opposition not to boycott the new parliament.

“The authorities have even undertaken attempts to involve the Georgian Orthodox Church and personally the Patriarch, Ilia II. I want to call on the authorities and warn them not to try to involve the Patriarch and our Mother Church; involving him [the Patriarch] in the political process is immoral,” Gamkrelidze said. “We also request the Patriarch not get involved in this process and not to take a role of mediator, because this is not about the civil confrontation this is about political struggle; this [decision to boycott the new parliament] is our political strategy and we are not going to give up this strategy, because this serves to the future of our country.”

He also called on the supporters to gather at the Sport Palace at 10pm on May 26 to protest against, what the opposition calls, the falsified elections. Some leaders from the nine-party bloc have said that they did not rule out march towards the Rustaveli Avenue on May 26, where the military parade is planned to mark the Georgia’s Independence Day.

Meanwhile, also on May 25 leader of a small party On Our Own – part of the nine-party opposition bloc - Paata Davitaia said he would quit the bloc if “unconstitutional moves” were undertaken by the bloc leaders at the protest rally. He specified that he would not approve any attempts to create obstacles to the military parade by holding the protest rallies on the Independence Day.

Speaking in a talk-show at the Tbilisi-based FM radio station, Imedi, on May 24 Gamkrelidze said that street protest rallies “were the only mean to change the government.”

“We should not let this new parliament to be convened,” Gamkrelidze said. “We will manage to do that if there is a large scale-protest rally not only on May 26, but also on the day when the parliament plans its first session. We will not let [newly elected ruling party] lawmakers inside [the parliament building]. The authorities, in that case, will have to either break up violently this rally, or make concessions.”



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