Georgian Opposition Demonstrators Return To The Streets To Call For Repeat Elections
By RFE/RL's Georgian Service November 14, 2020
TBILISI -- Thousands of opposition demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Georgian capital to demand repeat parliamentary elections.
Opposition supporters gathered in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi on November 14 to dispute the results of the October 31 poll, which was won by the ruling party, Georgian Dream.
The opposition, led by the United National Movement (ENM) and European Georgia, and including six other parties that won parliamentary representation, has said the vote was rigged and that they would boycott the recently elected parliament.
Runoff elections will be held in 15 districts on November 21, all but ensuring that Georgian Dream will again secure a majority in parliament despite recent reforms intended to make the legislature more politically diverse.
ENM leader Nika Melia told the crowd that the opposition would not give up on its calls for new elections to be held under a new administration.
"We will continue our protests until our demand is met," Melia said, adding that the October election was "stolen."
Georgia Dream has rejected the demand for new elections and has insisted the vote was free and fair.
"We are not considering the opposition's demands for calling a new election or any other issues," Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, a general-secretary of Georgian Dream, told a press briefing on November 14.
The demonstration was held without major incidents and was wrapped up before a 10 p.m. curfew introduced to stem the country's coronavirus outbreak.
On November 9, police used water cannons to disperse an opposition demonstration calling for new elections and the resignation of the Central Election Commission.
The latest rally comes as the United States and the European Union are facilitating discussions between Georgian Dream and the eight opposition parties in an effort to resolve the political crisis.
European Georgia has announced that opposition activists will hold rallies in downtown Tbilisi during the visit of U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo on November 17-18.
With reporting by AFP and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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