Georgian opposition give Saakashvili 10 days

10:11, 24 February 2009
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Offer the public their candidate for president

Two major Georgian opposition groups, the Republican Party and the New Right party, merged on Monday to form the Alliance for Georgia with Tbilisi`s former ambassador to the UN, Irakly Alasaniya, according to RIA Novosti.

At the launch, Republican Party leader David Usupashvili stressed that the group`s overall objective was the resignation of the president.

"Proceeding from that, we offer the public our candidate for president, Irakly Alasaniya," he said.

Alasaniya, one of the most popular politicians in Georgia who has strong ties with the United States, went on to issue an ultimatum to President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"As President Mikheil Saakashvili does not have enough political will to make the appropriate decision ... and step down, we give him 10 days to schedule a referendum. The president should enable Georgian people to make a decision on the necessity of holding presidential elections ahead of schedule," Alasaniya said.

He said that after the 10-day deadline passes, Alliance for Georgia would begin to take concrete steps for carrying out a national referendum.

According to Russia`s Kommersant newspaper, the move marks a radical change in the opposition`s tactics, commenting that during August`s war with Russia over South Ossetia, the opposition generally supported Saakashvili for "fear of accusations of betraying the national interests."

Opposition to Saakashvili has been growing in Georgia since its ill-conceived attack on the region, which maintained de facto independence from Tbilisi since the early 1990s, in a bid to bring it back under central control. After a five-day war to "force Georgia to peace," Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

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