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Georgia: Opposition ultimatum passes

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    Students marching from the State University toward the Parliament building © Khanim Javadova / GIPA, Licensed under Creative Commons

An hour after an opposition ultimatum for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to resign went unheeded, reports indicate that thousands of people continue to protest in the country's capital, Tbilisi. Radiobedniereba’s Blog, a GIPA Journalism School blogger, has more on the latest developments.

The Opposition parties, raised an ultimatum to President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign in 24 hours. The ultimatum time expires on 3 p.m. today. If Saakashvili will not resign, permanent demonstrations will start in all of Georgia, the opposition leaders say.

[…]

Protestors are waiting for Saakashvili’s decision and the opposition parties’ plans that are going to be announced today, at 4 p.m.

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    Protesters late at night on April 9 still in front of Parliament building © Marika Kochiashvili / GIPA, Licensed under Creative Commons

However, the number of people taking to the streets is believed to be much lower than yesterday, a national holiday, and expat blogger Wu Wei isn't expecting them to succeed.

At the end of the day, the Opposition gave Saakashvili 24 hours to resign. It doesn't seem very likely that he would do so.

[…]

The police were only bystanding or inside important buildings and had instructions only to take action if the demonstrators tried to enter the buildings and take them over, which didn't happen.

It seems it was a fun day, but the Opposition did not impress anyone with a coherent plan to take over. Nor did Saakashvili impress people with his offer to the Opposition to discuss and improve the Election Code. It's not enough to improve transparency and debate over policies, which is really needed. There needs to be more debate in the press and TV and Parliament.

According to Alanaga's Blog, one of many set up by the GIPA Journalism School especially for the protests, the Georgian president had made that quite clear earlier in the day.

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili answered the second day of demands for his resignation with a call for dialogue, Friday.

[…]

Saakashvili expressed his satisfaction that violence didn’t take place during the demonstrations from none of the sides: neither from the demonstrators nor from the Police. He also pointed out that his plans for dealing with protesters was transparent, as he briefed partner governments and the press on his plans to maintain order during the demonstrations.

In fact, one tweet from a veteran Georgian blogger seems to imply that the embattled leader appears remarkably calm.

dv0rsky: @onewmphoto only news at this moment is that president #saakashvili was yesterday in sighnaghi with his friends – in a restaurant… :)

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    Teens marching toward the Parliament in masks, perhaps worried that tear gas will be used as in Nov. 7, 2007 protests. As of yet, not one tear gas cannister has been fired. © Marika Kochiashvili / GIPA, Licensed under Creative Commons

Indeed, so far free from the clashes which led to a state of emergency being declared, the GIPA Natalie5n Blog confirms that the atmosphere is far from tense.

Both sides took credit for the peaceful first day protests. According to opposition leaders the peace lasted during the day because the protestors were “well organized and in a nonviolent mood,” said Zviad Dzidziguri, a prominent member of the Conservative Party. Government officials maintained the fact that the police was restrained and instructed not to obstruct any peaceful protests.

Some Georgian experts are saying that much depends on how long each side can maintain the goodwill.

[…]

Another political scientist, Soso Tsiskarishvili, who ran Georgia’s External Economic Relationships Department under ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze, adding:

“The side which will use violence first will lose.”

Late last night, fieldreports posted a mobile video interview with the head of the Young Georgian Lawyers Association whose organization is monitoring the protests.

However, the GIPA Journalism School Blog says that there has been at least one case of violence and intimidation.

Three activists of the Why? Public Movement were beaten yesterday at 11.30 pm Thursday when driving home from protests in front of Parliament.
Natia Kobalia, one of the leaders of “Why?” said that men in black masks, driving three jeeps, stopped the activists’ car, pulled out the six activists, and began beating the three boys with cudgels. The girls weren’t harmed.

[…]

One boy was treated for a concussion at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Tbilisi, and other two had more minor injuries.

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    Day 1 meeting gathered tens of thousands of protesters in front of Parliament building © Marika Kochiashvili / GIPA, Licensed under Creative Commons

And as Arevik’s Blog explains on why many Georgians from all walks of life are discontent with the situation in the country, the GIPA Journalism School Blog says the opposition plans to hold daily rallies until their demands are met.

In response to President Mikheil Saakashvili’s refusal to resign Friday, opposition leaders urged people to protest daily at 3 p.m. in front of Parliament, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the president’s administration building in Avlabari.

“We are not going to break into the buildings, our disobedience will just be demonstrations,” Levan Gachechiladze told a crowd Friday, April 10, gathered in front of Parliament. […]

More updates will be posted on Global Voices Online if and when any new events occur. In the meantime, it's worth keeping an eye on the GIPA Journalism School Blog as well as Twitter at #tbilisi.

mishab: RT @govtofgeorgia: Opposition Leaders Say Want ‘Public Talks’ with Saakashvili http://civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=20706 #tbilisi

[…]

perspectivelute: #tbilisi is this a divergence in tactics? Gachechiladze wanting civil disobedience, Burjanadze wanting a public debate with Saakashvili?

[…]

mhikaric: As predicted, the Opposition is doing a lot of nothing, leaving the ball in Misha's court. Alasania is probably glad he hedged. #tbilisi

perspectivelute: @mhikaric not much the opposition can do, is there, except hope the govt. loses its cool? they've trapped themselves #tbilisi

[…]

mhikaric: Maybe Burjanadze can hope nomenklatura friends send money to keep the protests alive. W/o Patarkatsishvili's money they're stuck. #tbilisi

There are are also updates from the mobile phone of Frontline Club blogger Guy Degen on Twitter (text) and Utter (audio) as well as Qik (video) and 12 seconds (video).


Qik Video on 12seconds.tv

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