TBILISI, DFWatch–The government in Georgia has not invited President Mikheil Saakashvili to the celebration of Independence Day May 26, which this year will not involve a military parade.
Vice Speaker of Parliament Manana Kobakhidze said the president still has the right to appear at any event and hold speeches.
“The president has the right to attend and address the nation. No-one is prohibiting him,” Kobakhidze told newspaper Rezonansi.
Saakashvili as Commander in Chief used to attend a military parade every year on May 26, but his government was severely criticized in 2011, when it brutally dispersed a peaceful anti-government rally in the early morning of that day in order to clear the street in front of parliament for the military parade. Even though several people died in the violence, the parade went on as planned hours later.
In 2012 the parade was conducted in Kutaisi at the opening of the new parliament building there, but this year government officials said they do not plan to have a military parade, but that the celebration will contain ‘small military details’. Former government officials and the president criticized the decision, saying that Georgia shouldn’t be ashamed of conducting a parade.
The government’s opponents say the Georgian Dream coalition by doing this wants to impair the office of president, as a military parade requires the commander in chief, Saakashvili, and by not having a parade it is not necessary to invite him to the event.
“It is not excluded that they want to place president in the shadow,” political commentator Korneli Kakachia told Rezonansi. “I also do not exclude domestic political reasons within the frames of which the new government refuses to grant pleasure to Saakashvili.”