THINKING ABOUT THE ARAB SPRING – ENSURING FREE, FAIR, AND COMPETITIVE ELECITONS IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA
Freedom is never given to you – you must fight hard to get it and harder to keep it!
Tbilisi – Georgia, showcase of democracy, beacon of democracy – the best democracy that the “American People” could buy – at least that is what policy planners had thought. Since the 2003 Rose Revolution which brought a US trained reformer to office, Michael Saakashvili, the US funded experiment on the border of Russia has not lived up to the billing.
Democracy has been born stillborn – and the style of government has reverted to more a system of clans and networks of patronage, at least that is what it now panning out during a period of transition, according to many pundits and policy experts.
In spite of all efforts to reform, and with new blood, spilled blood, the government and the ruling National Party has done well in centralizing and monopolizing power and money to the Center. The consolation has been made complete influx of development money. Much of it came in based on the failed 2008 Russian-Georgian war, out of guilt by the West or out of real concern for the IDPs from South Ossetia. Where the money actually went is still a question few are willing to ask.'
Now few can challenge the machinery that now exists, and it could prove hazardous to their health and security if they did. Was this planned, what went wrong, notwithstanding the debacle of the 2008 Georgian- Russian war and the economic and political freefall? Many questions remain but for now the focus is on the arrival of the savior, Bidzina Ivanishvili who is consistently called "the oligarch", featured on the front page of Forbes and was going to prove that Georgia could for once in its recent history have a peaceful transition of power. However, event that is doubtful.
Backed by the best PR that money could buy, … Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream Party (together with Irakli Alasania), leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, an integral part of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition are mounting a democratic takeover. However, the controlling government is not standing still, as least as Iralkli claimed on March 20, as he had evidence supporting his allegations that President Saakashvili was setting up paramilitary groups in Georgians regions, an allegation that has also been voiced in Moscow. All finger pointing and allegations aside, it does appears from all accounts that the government will cling to power at any cost, event to chance the wrath of the US government cutting-off all funding to Georgia under a proposed bill in the US Congress.
This political team has backing, not only in the halls of Congress, the Republican Institute and some Cold Warriors from the US State Department even the Kremlin, depending on who you talk too and which media report you may read as you dodge the cross fire of recriminations. Coincidence or not, the polls commissioned by the opposition in the US as to the political future in Georgia, National Democratic Institute, NDI, get conveniently leaked at the most ill-timed of times.
God only knows?
However, time may soon prove that democracy cannot be bought; it must be taken … “if Georgians want to have democracy, they must take it, organize, and exercise their Constitutional rights. If they continue and just hope for miracles they will never have democracy nor will they have independence. Meanwhile, they have fallen into a pattern of apathy and patronage, and the NGO community is not helping them but reinforcing the pattern. The political landscape is Georgia may be turning out to be a showdown as one of the first primaries in the US presidential elections, and the Democrats have not forgotten the Georgians for McCain lobby run by advisors of the Georgian president and the National Party and the inconvenient situation that Saakashvili put the US Administration in as a result of the ill-time and poorly executed August 2008 war to boaster the chances of John McCain in his failed bid for president. The war did serve its function, covering up a multitude of sins with “gun runners” and connections to former FBI director and how Georgia is being used as a logistical base for proxy wars in Africa, Syria and a gun show that would put the infamous “fast and furious” weapons walking program to shame. It brought also an influx of new development money for the poor IDPs and others affected by the war and keep the feeding frenzy going. It is not difficult to understand where most of that money went.
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