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12 Oct, 2010 11:58

Georgian rebel minister to become a leader of new opposition union

A former Georgian defense minister, forced into exile after falling out with President Saakashvili, is trying to get back into politics.

He is expected to have a pivotal role in a new alliance of Georgia's main opposition leaders, the “Georgian party”.

Irakly Okruashvili was sacked in 2007 for accusing Georgia's leader of corruption and physically removing his opponents. This led to protests in the capital, Tbilisi.

Hundreds of thousands of people demanded Saakashvili’s resignation, but the president was re-elected a year later. Okruashvili didn’t witness these developments.

He was arrested on corruption charges in 2007. Okruashvili signed a confession and was released on bail. He used the opportunity to flee to France, claiming the confession was forced.

Later a court in Georgia sentenced Okruashvili in absentia, to 11 years in prison.

In 2009, Okruashvili declared his intention to return to Georgia. However, he did not announce an exact date and so far there are no reports of his return.

Some analysts believe Okruashvili will face difficulties as a leader of the new opposition union.

“Irakly Okruashvili is outside of Georgia – he is in France. The question is of course is what he can do being outside of the country, and moreover there is an official investigation against him,” said Tengiz Pkhaladze from the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies.

Apart from Okruashvili, the list of the alliance’s leaders that was presented on Tuesday includes seasoned opposition-member Levan Gachechiladze, former-ombudsman Sozar Subari and ex-ambassador to Russia Erosi Eitzmarishvili.

According to Subari the main objectives are replacing the Georgian government, starting reunification talks with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, EU accession, and also restoring ties with the neighbors.

“We are determined to restore good relations with Russia, as it’s instrumental for the development of our country,” Subari is quoted by Interfax.