Πέμπτη, 30 Απριλίου 2009

Georgian opposition insists on president's resignation

Georgian opposition insists on president's resignation
TBILISI, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's opposition leaders said on Wednesday that they are willing to engage in dialogue with the leadership on the condition that President Mikheil Saakashvili agrees to resign. Crowds of activists have been holding protests outside parliament in Tbilisi since April 9, accusing Saakashvili of stifling democracy and leading the country into a disastrous war with Russia last summer. Former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze, who leads the Opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, told reporters: "You know very well that the opposition has not refused dialogue with the authorities. The issue was set out - the president's resignation. I have said several times that I see no possibility of discussing other issues with the president." The Georgian leader's popularity has plummeted since last August's military incursion into South Ossetia, which led to the conflict with Russia, a situation worsened by the mass unemployment brought about by the global financial crisis. He has also been widely accused of failing to make good on promises to carry out democratic reforms after the 2003 "Rose Revolution" that brought him to power. Another opposition leader, Georgy Khaindrava, told the crowd outside parliament: "We will not abandon the country to this Satan."
David Gamkrelidze, the leader of the New Rightists, said that dialogue with the president must be open, but not live on television, as some in the opposition have demanded. "Part of society wants and is ready for dialogue...that is logical and understandable," Gamkrelidze said, adding that he was "ready to hear from the other side." "We have said that we are not against dialogue, but we demand that dialogue be with Saakashvili personally...not live on the air, but open so as not to hide from society. The issue on the agenda is Saakashvili's resignation and immediate elections," he said. Saakashvili said on Tuesday he was open to talks with the opposition. "We should forget hatred and standoffs... We should put our motherland first and ask each other for forgiveness... Hatred destroys small states. I am ready to resume the dialog, to overcome the difficulties and to save the country," the president said, shaking hands with opposition leader Irakli Alasania after attending a special prayer session with Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II, who declared Tuesday a day of nationwide repentance.

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