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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI152 2008-01-31 14:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0152/01 0311447
R 311447Z JAN 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000152 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2018 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary:  On January 30, opposition leader and 
Republican Party Chairman David Usupashvili told the 
Ambassador that the Republican party will not join the United 
National Council of Opposition (UNC) on a joint party list 
for the coming parliamentary elections.  Former presidential 
candidate, MP Levan Gachechiladze, asked the Republicans to 
stay with the UNC and join the UNC party list, but the 
Republicans decided to run on their own.  Usupashvili 
acknowledged the risk of the decision.  He expects criticism 
from UNC members and President Saakashvili's supporters 
alike.  In the end, Usupashvili said his party could not 
continue to pursue the one-track agenda put forth by some 
members of the UNC, which consists simply of getting rid of 
Saakashvili.  End Summary. 
2. (C) On January 30, opposition leader and Republican party 
Chairman David Usupashvili told the Ambassador that his party 
will not join the UNC on a joint party list for the coming 
parliamentary elections.  Usupashvili said this was a 
difficult, risky decision for his party.  They are not 
severing all of their ties or participation with the UNC. 
However, the Republicans felt they could neither uphold their 
party's values nor pursue its future by being tied to the UNC 
party list during the election.  Usupashvili said his party 
believes the UNC needs stronger leadership.  He said they are 
unsure if UNC leader and former presidential candidate, MP 
Levan Gachechiladze, can "keep the UNC together." 
3. (C) Gachechiladze had encouraged the Republicans, and 
specifically Usupashvili, to stay with the UNC.  The UNC 
offered the Republicans 12 spots of the first 50 for the 
UNC's party list.  Usupashvili told the Ambassador that the 
Republicans have around 5 percent support in the country.  In 
a best-case scenario they can reach out to disaffected voters 
that previously supported Saakashvili and win up to 15 
percent of the vote.  Usupashvili said that his party is also 
prepared for the worst, whereby they would not gain 5 percent 
of the vote and lose all representation in Parliament. 
(Note: For the parliamentary election, 100 of 150 seats will 
be assigned by party list.  In a nationwide vote, whereby a 
voter can select one party, the parties which receive more 
than 5 percent of the popular vote will be assigned a 
corresponding number of seats to the percentage they receive. 
 Each party submits a party list in advance, whereby their MP 
candidates are rank-ordered how they will fill seats won in 
the election.  End note.) 
4. (C) Usupashvili expects that members of the UNC will 
harshly criticize the Republicans for not running on the UNC 
party list.  He also anticipates the media and ruling 
National Movement (UNM) will present this as a huge split in 
the opposition and use the attention to press the UNM's 
political advantage.  He said some people may explain the 
split by calling the Republicans "a tool" of the USG.  He 
thought that news of the Republican decision may get out 
before he departs for Washington, DC on February 2. 
5. (C) In the end, Usupashvili said his party could not 
continue to pursue the one-track agenda put forth by some 
members of the UNC.  Their focus on obtaining two-thirds of 
Parliament and ousting Saakashvili is contrary to his party's 
vision of Georgian government.  Still, Usupashvili 
acknowledged that challenges remain.  He believes that if the 
parliamentary election is truly fair, no party will end up 
with more than 50 seats (of the 150 total.)  Usupashvili 
continues to hope that Parliamentary Speaker Burjanadze can 
develop more independence from the UNM, as this would help 
ease the transition toward a Parliament and government no 
longer dominated by only one party.  However, Usupashvili 
noted that key members of the UNM are threatened by any loss 
of power, and Burjanadze is not strong enough yet to make her 
own way. 
6. (C) In a brief update on the status of negotiations that 
he has been leading (reftel) with Burjanadze, Usupashvili 
said that no meetings were scheduled, but he would see her 
the night of January 30.  Usupashvili said it would be clear 
by January 31 which of the opposition's demands the UNM would 
agree to, what they would not, and where there was room for 
negotiation.  Usupashvili said that some negotiations would 
be harder now, due to public rhetoric used by both the 
opposition and the UNM.  He said that the negotiations will 
likely require international help to ensure follow-through. 
He also warned that he expected there to be opposition 
demonstrations beginning on February 15, and would continue 
indefinitely, if the negotiations with the government have 
TBILISI 00000152  002 OF 002 
not concluded. 
7. (C) This is the first (expected) fissure of the UNC.  Time 
will tell whether t
he UNC can survive as an opposition force 
after the departure of one of its largest (and most moderate) 
component parties.  Usupashvili has privately confided to us 
over the past two months the serious misgivings within the 
Republican party (as well as his own) over being so closely 
allied with much more radical parties.  The Republican party 
decision will now force other members of the opposition to 
decide with whom they will ally for the elections.  They will 
no longer be able to ride on the Republicans' coattails as 
many had undoubtedly planned. 


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