Opposition parties rally in front of Georgian Parliament building

Opposition parties rally in front of Georgian Parliament building

United opposition parties have been picketing outside the Georgian parliament building since 9 am this morning.

The protest concerns election fraud, the economic crisis, and the existence of political prisoners in the country.

Protesters are gathered in front of parliament and have been focusing shouts at politicians entering the parliament. They aim to cause discomfort by peaceful protest and shouting, Agenda.ge reported.

Law enforcers are mobilized at all entrances to the parliament. Seven individuals have been detained at the opposition’s anti-government rally at the Georgian parliament in central Tbilisi today after they disobeyed police.

The opposition parties which have been demanding repeat parliamentary elections since November 2020 took to the street again last week, following the arrest of the head of the United National Movement opposition party Nika Melia. 

Melia, who is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019, was arrested on February 23 for refusal to post bail.

Now the opposition is demanding the release of Melia, one of the co-founders of the opposition-minded TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua and the repeat parliamentary elections. 

Representatives of the United National Movement presented a 5-day action plan of protest on February 26. They say that rallies will continue at the administrative building of the government of Georgia (on March 5), at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (on March 9), at Tbilisi City Court (on March 11) and again at parliament (on March 13). 

The opposition parties have requested mediation instead of facilitation from the EU yesterday, during the meeting with the president of the European Council Charles Michel, to come to an agreement with the ruling Georgian party amid the current political tension. 

They said that they may accept the referendum instead of the repeat parliamentary elections. 

The international community has urged political parties in the country to deescalate the situation and negotiate.

Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili says that they are ready to continue the dialogue with the opposition. However, he says that no repeat elections will take place because the October 31 parliamentary elections were held ‘in line with democratic standards’ and were recognised by the international community.

Garibashvili also says that Melia and Rurua ‘committed crimes’ and that ‘everyone is equal before the law.’ 

The ruling Georgian Dream party MPs say that the opposition responds to the calls on negotiation by destructive actions. 60 opposition members from eight opposition parties have won seats in the 150-member parliament in the 10th convocation of the state legislature. 

However, 51 of the 60 opposition MPs have refused to take up their mandates and requested the suspension of their status. Parliament rejects opposition request to suspend status for 51 opposition MPs. They claim that the October 31 elections were fabricated and that repeat elections must take place.