Georgian opposition parties announced following a two-hour long meeting at the Labor Party’s office today, that they will hold a protest rally on Tbilisi’s main Rustaveli Avenue on April 4, where they will unveil a joint action plan for the upcoming parliamentary polls in October.
Prior to the April rally, the opposition plans to do picketing actions, to visit the regions of the country and to meet with the electorate, as well as international organizations. “Not a single vote to Georgian Dream” will be the key message of the opposition.
Opposition’s announcement follows its decision of February 10 to quit electoral reform talks in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to imprison former Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava for 38 months for embezzlement.
Giga Bokeria of European Georgia, largest opposition group in the Parliament, told reporters today that “a large-scale rally will be held on Rustaveli Avenue on April 4 with active participation of the public and opposition, where we will unveil our strategy, plan, concrete agreements, which will be reached until then; the process has already been launched.” Bokeria added that the united opposition will unveil its concrete vision on “how to get rid of this evil and help the country, which has been drawn to a deadlock by Bidzina Ivanishvili, this shameful leader, and his clowns.”
The opposition leaders further said they decided not to oppose each other in single-mandate constituencies and to agree on single candidates. “It will be a precondition for getting rid of this oligarchic regime,” Grigol Vashadze of the United National Movement said.
In November 2019, ruling Georgian Dream lawmakers downvoted promised constitutional amendment that would transfer Georgia to fully proportional system from 2020, instead of planned 2024. Since then, opposition hit the streets to demand electoral reform, but they proved unsuccessful. International partners-mediated electoral talks to solve the crisis and reform the election system collapsed yesterday.
Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement – United Georgia, said that a revolutionary scenario is not the opposition’s key task, but rather “to ensure that elections do not lose any sense in this country.” “In case Ivanishvili and his government manage to arrest opposition leaders one by one and to [eliminate opposition parties], then, of course, a scenario will [be] evolve[d] into a revolutionary way, that is not in anyone’s interests,” Burjanadze added.
Badri Japaridze, one of the leaders of Lelo for Georgia party, said that the party will participate in the April 4 rally, but it has yet to decide whether it accepts the opposition’s proposal to back a single candidate in single-mandate constituencies.
The opposition leaders reiterated today that resuming electoral reform talks with the ruling Georgian Dream party following Gigi Ugulava’s imprisonment is meaningless.
“We do not intend to return to the table of negotiations, because a dialogue with terrorists makes no sense. They were arresting us and simultaneously talking with us fictitiously just to show it to the international community,” Sergi Kapanadze of European Georgia said, adding that “our task is to bring Ivanishvili to a logical end peacefully, through elections and accompanying strong protests.”