08TBILISI88, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/22/2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI88 2008-01-22 16:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0088/01 0221606
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221606Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8649
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000088 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/22/2008 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  Mikheil Saakashvili was sworn in as 
President of Georgia for a second, 5-year term on January 20. 
 A military parade and gala concert by Jose Carreras marked 
the occasion, attended by U.S. Secretary of Commerce 
Gutierrez and other foreign dignitaries.  True to their word, 
the United National Council of Opposition (UNC), led by 
defeated presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze, rallied 
to loudly protest the inauguration at the Tbilisi Hippodrome. 
 The New Rightists Party, which is not part of the UNC, also 
joined the protest.  On January 22, the first of many 
expected personnel changes in government were announced. 
Most of the initial changes affect leadership in districts in 
the capital of Tbilisi.  PM Lado Gurgenidze will submit the 
new cabinet of ministers next week.  Koba Davitashvili 
(leader of the People's Party and UNC member) led a protest 
of several hundred people outside Embassy Tbilisi on January 
22.  The protest may indicate a pending split in the UNC, 
because none of the other opposition parties supported it. 
End Summary. 
 
Saakashvili Begins Second Term 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (U) Mikheil Saakashvili was sworn in as President of 
Georgia for a second, 5-year term on January 20.  Contrary to 
the UNC's demands, a military parade marked the occasion. 
2,500 soldiers marched on foot, armored vehicles drove by, 
and helicopters flew over in formation.  A gala concert was 
also held featuring Jose Carreras.  U.S. Secretary of 
Commerce Gutierrez and foreign dignitaries from approximately 
40 countries attended. 
 
Opposition Protests Inauguration 
-------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Embassy observers estimated about 10,000 people 
attended an anti-inauguration rally on January 20 at the 
Tbilisi Hippodrome.  Opposition presidential candidate Levan 
Gachechiladze and other UNC leaders addressed the crowd, 
saying "Saakashvili is not our President."  Gachechiladze 
also focused on the need for free media, truly independent 
election administration, and an independent and responsible 
judiciary.  Without these, he said, "we will force 
Saakashvili to flee the country." 
 
4. (U) Other leaders were even more outspoken.  Salome 
Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) and MP Zviad Dzidziguri 
(Conservatives) both referred to Saakashvili as a "de facto 
President."  MP Mamuka Katsitadze (New Rightists Party) went 
further, calling for a "political and moral disobedience 
campaign against the authorities."  Former chess champion and 
member of Badri Patarkatsishvili's party, Nona 
Gaprindashvili, also addressed the crowd and said she too 
"would refuse to recognize Saakashvili as President." 
 
More New Faces Arrive in Government 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Saakashvili reiterated in his inauguration speech 
that he is planning a new, more-inclusive government.  On 
January 22, the first of many expected personnel changes in 
government were announced.  Many of the initial changes 
affect districts in the capital city.  Tbilisi Mayor Gigi 
Ugulava announced his new Deputy, Zurab Arsoshvili (from the 
Adjara Ministry of Finance), and three new Sakrebulo (City 
Assembly) Chairmen in Tbilisi districts (including Tbilisi, 
Vake and Isani-Samgori.)  (Note: It is important to remember 
that Gachechiladze received more votes in Tbilisi than did 
Saakashvili.  End note.) 
 
6. (U) Next week PM Lado Gurgenidze will submit the new 
cabinet of ministers to Parliament.  At this time media 
sources report that Eka Sharashidze (head of the President's 
Administration) will become the Minister of the Economy. 
Sandro Kvitaishvili (a new face) could become the Minister of 
Health and Social Security, and Zurab Melikishvili (Regional 
Governor of Kvemo Kartli) could become the Minister of 
Environment and Natural Resources. 
 
7. (U) Other media reports speculate that Davit Bakradze 
could become Foreign Minister, and Saakashvili insider MP 
Giga Bokeria could become a Deputy Foreign Minister, 
Ambassador to the U.N., or official envoy in Europe.  Former 
Minister of Healthcare and Social Issues, Davit 
Tkeshelashvili, may be offered one of three vice-premier 
positions.  Giorgi Baramidze, Minister of Euro-Atlantic 
Integration, is also seen as a likely replacement for Levan 
Varshalomidze, the current Head of the Government of Adjara. 
Other speculation reveals that recent Education Minister 
appointee, Maia Miminoshvili, may be replaced by Maia 
Panjikidze, current Ambassador to the Netherlands.  Interior 
Minister Vano Merabishvili and Prosecutor General Zurab 
Adeishvili are both expected to retain their positions. 
 
Protesters (Some) Gather Outside Embassy 
---------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Koba Davitashvili (leader of the People's Party and 
UNC member) led a protest of several hundred people outside 
U.S. Embassy Tbilisi
on January 22.  Waving flags and 
banners, and holding signs, the protesters stayed for about 
one and a half hours.  Some of the signs said "Why?"  Others 
said "Bryzer - The Supporter of Anti-Democracy in Georgia" 
and "USA - Supporter of Dictatorship."  Davitashvili said, 
"If not for the support of the U.S. government, 
falsification, fraud and violence would not have won in this 
country.  This is the truth and we all know it."  (Comment: 
In a January 19 meeting, Republican Party Chairman David 
Usupashvili told DAS Bryza and the Ambassador that 
Davitashvili was planning the demonstration.  Usupashvili 
said that he and the UNC voted against Davitashvili and the 
protest.  Only Jondi Bagaturia (Georgian Troupe) also 
supported the demonstration among UNC members.  Despite a few 
UNC flags present, the UNC was against this event. 
Davitashvili told the other UNC members that he would hold 
the protest despite their misgivings and leave the UNC. 
Usupashvili said that this public split would be bad for the 
UNC, and he and the UNC majority were trying to determine a 
course of action.  End comment.) 
TEFFT

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