Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 99

The National Democratic party (NDP), Georgia’s largest opposition party and the only one represented in parliament, yesterday took the final step toward a split. Steering committee members and most of the party’s 36 parliamentary deputies, led by the party’s political secretary and parliamentary group leader Mamuka Giorgadze, announced that they are founding another party. The move follows their ouster at an extraordinary party conference May 19, initiated by party leader Irina Sarishvili. Internal observers suggest that the conflict among the two groups is mainly of a personal rather than political nature. (Interfax, May 20 and 21) The anti-Communist and strongly pro-independence NDP has a record of upholding parliamentary prerogatives and opposed the late president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The NDP was one of the few opposition parties to accept President Eduard Shevardnadze’s return to power, while continuing to criticize what it regards as Shevardnadze’s excessive concessions to Russia. Irina Sarishvili took over the NDP’s top post after her husband Georgy Chanturia, the party’s founding leader, was assassinated more than a year ago. Chanturia was allegedly killed by pro-Moscow elements within the state security apparatus, which Shevardnadze has since purged.

Kyrgyzstan Awards Gold Mining Rights to Western Companies.