Georgia: opposition MPs declare hunger strike

(Itar-Tass) - Six members of the faction of the New Right Force (a moderate opposition party) in the Georgian parliament, started a hunger strike in the office of Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze on Monday. Participants in the protest action include David Gamkrelidze - the leader of the party and the faction, who ran for presidency at the January 5 elections. Only men are taking part in the hunger strike. The faction consists of ten members, including three women. One MP is away from Tbilisi and for that reason is not taking part in the protest actions.

The protesters said they demanded from Burdzhanadze an answer to the question on whether or not the authorities will meet the demand of the opposition to do a repeated vote counting. The opposition is demanding as well the democratisation of the electoral code, the formation of electoral administrations of all levels according to the principle of full parity, the appointment of the head of the Central Electoral Commission with the consent of all the parties involved, as well as the monitoring of the work of law enforcement agencies.

Pikria Chikhladze, a member of the faction, told journalists that "a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition has been deadlocked, because the authorities do not want to keep their promises concerning the fulfilment of the opposition's demands." The New Right Force says that the protesters are not going to block the office of the speaker and expect from Burdzhanadze and the authorities "a concrete answer to their demands."

Representatives of the speaker's staff told journalists that Burdzhanadze was going to meet participants in the hunger strike within a few hours, and stressed that "it is members of the opposition, who are to blame for the disruption of the dialogue."

At the same time, five leaders of the National Opposition Council (an alliance of eight radical opposition parties) continue a hunger strike on the steps before the parliament building, which was started on Sunday. Participants in the protest action include three MPs. They are demanding a new vote counting at the presidential elections, the democratisation of the electoral code and a free and democratic holding of parliamentary elections next May.

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