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Prominent Oppositionists Join Forces For Tbilisi Ballot

Irakli Alasania will be the Alliance for Georgia's candidate for mayor of Tbilisi.
Irakli Alasania will be the Alliance for Georgia's candidate for mayor of Tbilisi.
Irakli Alasania, who stepped down as Georgian ambassador to the UN in December 2008 and now heads the opposition Alliance for Georgia, and Sozar Subari, whose five-year term as human rights ombudsman expired earlier this month, will join forces to run in the Tbilisi mayoral and municipal council elections tentatively scheduled for May 30, 2010. Both men were previously close and loyal supporters of President Mikheil Saakashvili, but now criticize his apparent indifference to election fraud and egregious human rights violations on the part of the Interior Ministry and security services.

The Alliance for Georgia, which groups together Alasania's Our Georgia-Free Democrats and the Republican and New Rights parties, announced on September 22 that Alasania will be its candidate for Tbilisi mayor, and Subari its nominee to head the Tbilisi municipal council. It will be the first time that the mayor of Tbilisi will be directly elected, rather than chosen by an elected municipal council.

Alasania, who disassociated himself from the more radical actions undertaken by the opposition during the early summer in its campaign to force Saakashvili to step down, stressed on September 22 that "we are against any revolutionary change," and that "our goal is to change the current election system and come to power through elections." To that end, Alasania's party has formally joined the working group established in March to draft amendments to the existing Electoral Code. Alasania further described the alliance as "that political nucleus that is capable of improving the situation and implanting democratic values."

Alasania on September 22 characterized Subari as a man of principles who enjoys considerable authority by virtue of his work over the past five years to highlight and redress human rights abuses on the part of various government officials and agencies. At the same time, he stressed that at present Subari is not currently a member of, and does not plan to join, any of the three parties in the alliance. Subari will nonetheless become a cochairman of the alliance.

Subari for his part declared: "I promise that we shall achieve the holding of democratic elections in Georgia at all levels, first of all at the level of local elections, which will guarantee that the parliamentary and presidential elections will be democratic, and that we shall change the leadership by peaceful means and, most importantly, change the course of the country. It will not be a regime in which everything is based on the will of one person, but a country where there is a balance of power between the various branches and where justice exists."

Meanwhile, there has been no response to the September 19 proposal by the extra-parliamentary Conservative Party that the opposition should hold U.S.-style primaries to select a single candidate for next year's mayoral election. Nor is it clear whether Levan Gachechiladze, the joint opposition candidate in the January 2008 preterm presidential ballot, will also participate in the Tbilisi mayoral election. Alasania met with Gachechiladze on September 22 after announcing that he would run for that post, but no details of their discussion were made public.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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