08TBILISI2304, GEORGIA: NEW OPPOSITION ALLIANCE UPS THE ANTE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2304 2008-12-09 14:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1977
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2304/01 3441458
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091458Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0550
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002304 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NEW OPPOSITION ALLIANCE UPS THE ANTE 
 
REF: TBILISI 2189 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  David Usupashvili (Republicans) and David 
Gamkrelidze (New Rights), two of the more moderate leaders in 
the opposition outside of parliament, formally announced 
their alliance, thereby making public their plans to work 
together as an opposition voice.  The two also extended a 
public offer to Irakli Alasania to become the leader of this 
new alliance at a press conference.  Usupashvili and 
Gamkrelidze called for new parliamentary and presidential 
elections though did not specify any timetable.  Both 
downplayed policy differences between them, preferring to 
focus on a yet-to-be-released joint policy platform.  They 
also ruled out any cooperation with former Prime Minister 
Zurab Noghaideli, and said they would work with Nino 
Burjanadze and her party on the condition she give up her 
presidential ambitions. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The move was widely expected and timed to 
coincide with Alasania's resignation as UN Permanent 
Representative.  Previously, David Usupashvili indicated to 
the Ambassador that Alasania's move to lead this new 
opposition bloc was imminent.  By going forward with the 
announcement without Alasania's participation and publicly 
offering the leadership role to Alasania, the two Datos (as 
they are known here) made it appear as if Alasania might 
still be weighing his options inside the government and out. 
Without Alasania, the new alliance represents more of a 
codification of existing political conditions than a new way 
forward, and a visible sign that the opposition outside of 
parliament is splitting into moderate and radical factions. 
However, if Usupashvili and Gamkrelidze are true to their 
stated intention of issues-based party building, the new 
alliance could serve as a positive force for a more 
productive political dialogue.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
Hey Irakli, Let's Make a Deal 
 
3.  (C)  As David Gamkrelidze told us a few weeks ago, a new 
alliance had been agreed upon and he and Usupashvili were 
waiting for the right timing.  Gamkrelidze and Usupashvili 
have been focused on convincing Alasania to head up the new 
coalition.  By going public now, they have both separated 
themselves from the more radical members of the 
extra-parliamentary opposition and confirmed that they had 
been talking with Alasania.  At their press conference, they 
went one step further by publicly offering their coalition to 
Alasania.  The public offer might be an attempt to force 
Alasania's hand and get him to commit to joining the two 
Datos in opposition.  Gamkrelidze's and Usupashvili's offer 
to Alasania represents the foundation of a ready made 
centrist political party; access to funds and organization 
(albeit it limited); and a top spot.  The downside is that 
joining their coalition also means taking on the baggage of 
two national politicians who lack any natural constituency, 
power base or real popularity.  Alasania appears to be 
weighing the offer, although with no scheduled elections, the 
immediate upside of joining this newly-formed coalition is 
greatly diminished and would make it hard for Alasania to 
present himself as a new face on the political scene. 
 
We'll Get To That Later 
 
4.  (C)  Although socially very close friends, politically 
there are significant policy differences between the "two 
Dato's."  When asked the obvious question as to who would 
lead the alliance if Alasania demurred, they said they would 
address the issue later.  They were also asked about 
immediate elections and calls for Saakashvili's resignation 
Qimmediate elections and calls for Saakashvili's resignation 
which New Rights favored and the Republicans opposed; 
disagreements on governmental structure; and about its joint 
platform.  David Usupashvili simple stated that "(a)fter one 
month, the coalition will present to the society its 
platform, action plan and its leader, which will manage to 
unite the democratic forces in the country to secure the 
change of the current government."  Privately both have 
stressed to us that they understand the need to find a 
message other than simply being anti-Saakashvili. 
Unfortunately the focus on a personality based future 
(Alasania); the absence of articulating a coherent 
alternative message and governing vision during the 
announcement of their coalition; and focusing on calls for 
new elections show that old habits indeed die hard. 
 
Partners Are Scarce 
 
5.  (C)  In the May Parliamentary Elections, the 
Usupashvili-led Republicans won 3.8 percent of the vote while 
in the January Presidential Elections, David Gamkrelidze won 
4.0 percent of the vote.  (Embassy Note:  In the 
Parliamentary Elections, the New Rights party ran with United 
 
TBILISI 00002304  002 OF 002 
 
 
Opposition and not as an individual party so parliamentary 
numbers are unavailable.  End Note.)  Following his 
disappointing show in the presidential elections, Gamkrelidze 
 
had embraced the more radical opposition outside of 
parliament.  The new coalition with Usupashvili shows his 
return to th
e mode moderate center. 
 
6.  (C)  At best, the new coalition represents a small 
percentage of the voting populace and without some unlikely 
multiplier effect, it will need to gain partners to act as a 
more credible political force.  The new coalition has 
publicly ruled out Noghaideli and, as a practical matter, 
Nino Burjanadze, who is clearly not willing to be anybody's 
number two.  Some press outlets are reporting that Ombudsman 
Sozar Subari has had discussions about joining the new 
coalition, although Subari has refused to confirm or deny the 
matter and is reportedly happy to be politically active from 
his ombudsman's office.  Both David Gamkrelidze and 
Usupashvili have told us that Levan Gachechiladze is welcome 
to join under the condition he distance himself from the more 
radical opposition.  Gachechiladze is reluctant to do so as 
of yet.  Moreover, he does not bring a significant 
organization or constituency to the coalition should he 
decide to join.  Privately, both Gamkrelidze and Usupashvili 
rule out cooperation with others in the more radical 
opposition.  Although they may play a significant role, 
absent Alasania or perhaps Subari, the new 
Gamkrelidze/Usupashvili coalition has few if any obvious 
avenues to further consolidate the larger opposition. 
TEFFT

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