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Opposition Picket of Parliament to go Ahead

The opposition picket of Parliament will go ahead, representatives of the eight-party bloc confirmed on June 4, but it will not involve any "unconstitutional steps."

"We will picket the parliament building without violating any law or constitutional provision. There will be no calls to storm Parliament; the demonstration will be in accordance with the law," Manana Nachkebia, a New Rights Party lawmaker in the outgoing parliament said.

The eight-party opposition bloc and the Labor Party have called for a large-scale protest rally on the day the new parliament is set to convene for the first time. In earlier statements, opposition leaders threatened to seal off the parliament building so as to prevent ruling party MPs gaining access.

Davit Gamkrelidze, the New Rights Party leader, also reiterated on June 4 opposition plans for a picket of the parliament, but said nothing about plans to deny entry to the building. Instead, he said there would be "a corridor of shame" – similar to the one during the opposition protest rallies in March, when ruling party MPs had to run the opposition gauntlet before entering the parliament building.

Meanwhile, on June 3 and 4 a fresh controversy erupted over opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze’s drug test results. Before taking their seat all MPs must pass a drugs test.

Gachechiladze’s initial test result showed the presence of codeine – a chemical compound found in opium. Gachechiladze said on June 3 that before taking the test he had informed doctors that he had taken a painkiller – Solpadeine Plus – for a headache the previous night. The painkiller cointains, among other ingredients, codeine. Repeat tests on June 4 showed no sign of any suspicious substance.

Although the eight-party opposition bloc and the Labor Party have said they will not take their seats in the new parliament, they have submitted to the drugs tests, saying they first needed to formally become MPs in order to annul the bloc’s entire party list of MP candidates so that no one from the list was able to take seat in the new parliament.


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