( Civil ) - Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said he would run for presidency in the January 5 presidential elections.
"I will do my best to ensure that the country finally bids farewell to darkness, violence, hunger and poverty. I will do my best to ensure that our country returns to its historical roots, restores its brightness in order to revive our science, education, culture, in order to protect our churches," Natelashvili said.
He also pointed out that "although a part of opposition parties have refused to support my presidential bid" he was ready to invite them to join in his future coalition government.
"We invite them in the coalition government of national unity, which should jointly lead the country to a new victory," Natelashvili said.
Labor Party was part of a ten-party opposition coalition; however, the latter nominated an independent lawmaker, Levan Gachechiladze, as its presidential candidate. As a result the Labor Party quitted the coalition.
Shalva Natelashvili also said that he was ready to challenge President Saakashvili in TV debates, "to show to the entire country, where is darkness and where is light."
These remarks were made in an apparent allusion to a government-sponsored political music video, which is aired by the local television stations. In one episode a singer chants in lyrics: "... darkness and light..." and when saying darkness a photo of Shalva Natelashvili appears on TV screen and when saying light, Mikheil Saakashvili photo appears.
Today's press conference was the first one by Shalva Natelashvili since the November 7 unrests in Tbilisi. The General Prosecutor's Office said on November 9 that Natelashvili would face charges relating to espionage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. The next day, however, it softened its stance and said "investigators have decided to question Natelashvili as a witness." Then President Saakashvili said that Natelashvili would not be arrested and he could "freely run for the presidency."