TBILISI, DFWatch — Five years after the last presidential election in Georgia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claim that they have gathered 800 000 signatures in support of a demand that President Saakashvili should resign.
Georgian Dream, the new ruling party, does not mind Saakashvili remaining in his current position for ten more months.
5 years ago, on January 5, Georgians elected a president for five years. Amendments were made to the constitution, according to which a presidential election must be held in October of the same year as a presidential term is over. Parliament made these changes without holding a referendum.
In October 2011, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili said he would impeach Saakashvili if he came to power. Now, as Prime Minister, Ivanishvili told DF Watch on December 21 that Georgian Dream does not plan to impeach the president.
“Americans and Europeans assured me that it isn’t worth it to raise this issue, and I learned from their statements that if we start an impeachment procedure, it would be hard to explain to the international community, and we haven’t raised the issue again. I think we won’t do anything about his powers either,” he said.
But several NGOs have demanded Sakashvili’s resignation and a month ago began to gather signatures in support of such a demand.
We will deliver 200 000 signatures to parliament to request a referendum about this issue,” says Nino Tsinamdzgvrishvili, chair of the Unanimity for Rights of Society Coalition (URSC).
Tamar Chugoshvili, head of Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), said impeachment is a pressing issue.
“If the issue is about violating the constitution, the Constitutional Court should prepare a report and the parliamentary majority, 2/3 of deputies, should support it,” said Chugoshvili.
On January 4, URSC organized rallies in several cities simultaneously, including Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi.
They claim that over 800 000 people have put their name on a demand for the president’s resignation.
“In one week we went through Kutaisi, Martvili, Samtredia, Zugdidi, Poti, Ozurgeti and Batumi. We had a very serious rally in Batumi in the end,” said Mikheil Andghuladze, head of the coalition.
Organizers say the protests will continue indefinitely.
The next demonstration is planned for January 20, the date of Saakashvili’s inauguration in 2008. Now, the activists will gather at the president’s palace in Avlabari, Tbilisi, where they plan to stay till Saakashvili resigns.
Saakashvili himself has not commented the development.