Opposition Protests Contesting Georgian Parliamentary Election Results Continue In Tbilisi
Georgian authorities agree to negotiations with the opposition through the mediation of international partners
The Georgian opposition intends to hold another protest action in the center of Tbilisi on Monday. This decision was made after on the night of November 9, law enforcement officers twice used water cannons to disperse demonstrators near the building of the Georgian Central Election Commission. As a result, 27 people received varying degrees of bodily harm, including protesters, law enforcement officers and journalists..
Georgian NGOs accuse law enforcement officers of using water cannons without warning and unjustifiably in a pandemic and cold weather.
The authorities state that the demonstrators intended to storm the CEC building “by violent means” and that “the Ministry of Internal Affairs used proportionate force within the limits of its powers.” According to official data, during the dispersal of the protest, law enforcement officers detained 19 people “for violating public order” and “disobeying police demands”.
Before several hundred demonstrators moved to the CEC building on November 8 and announced that they intend to picket it until new parliamentary elections are scheduled, a larger protest rally took place in the center of Tbilisi, in which, according to various estimates, approximately 15-20 thousand people.
It is noteworthy that the Georgian opposition did not recognize the legitimacy of the October 31 parliamentary elections and announced an indefinite protest, claiming that the voting results were falsified. Protesters demand resignation of CEC chairman Tamara Zhvania and rerun elections.
After counting 100% of the votes, the Georgian CEC announced that according to proportional lists, the ruling Georgian Dream gained 48.15%, and the main opposition force, the United National Movement – Strength in Unity, received 27.14%. They are followed by seven parties with three percent or less, including the pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots..
Another 30 deputies to the Georgian parliament are elected by majority lists. After counting the votes, the CEC announced that candidates from the ruling party had won in fourteen single-mandate constituencies, and a second round would be required in sixteen, since none of the candidates could overcome the fifty percent barrier. If the opposition decides to declare a boycott of the second round, candidates from the ruling party will automatically win in single-mandate constituencies, and accordingly, Georgian Dream will receive 91 seats in the new parliament. This is enough for the parliament of the new convocation to convene, and the deputies recognize its powers..
Negotiations are needed
Ombudsman of Georgia Nino Lomjaria called on the authorities and the opposition to immediately begin negotiations to resolve the political crisis in the country.
“The situation is aggravated by the difficult epidemiological situation in Georgia due to the global pandemic and the economic crisis. Therefore, it is important to negotiate with the participation of all electoral actors to agree on a common legal and political solution. It is necessary to find ways to calculate the results of disputed polling stations as transparently as possible and to ensure a fair conduct of the second round, ”the ombudsman said in a statement..
Prime Minister of Georgia Georgy Gakharia, who is in isolation due to a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus, said on November 9 that the authorities are maintaining a dialogue with the opposition through the mediation of international partners.
“Peace and democracy have no alternative. As for all the processes that yesterday tried to unfold on the street – on our initiative, as well as with the help and initiative of our strategic partners, it is necessary to immediately transfer to the legal and political platforms. Negotiations have no alternative, and we have always talked about this, as well as our strategic partners. At the same time, we must remember that this is a task given to us by our voters, ”Gakharia said in his address.
At the same time, the united opposition has not yet decided on the subsequent actions. It is expected that they will become known at the action on the evening of November 9th. At the same time, individual parties made statements according to which they are ready for dialogue. However, part of the opposition sets preconditions for this to the authorities, while the other part does not see the need for this, stating that this brings tension to the negotiation process.
It should be noted that in connection with the difficult epidemiological situation in the country, from November 9 in Tbilisi and six large cities of Georgia from 10 pm to 5 am a curfew is imposed. Although the opposition says it does not intend to abide by this restriction.
Professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Administration Tornike Sharashenidze believes that at this stage it is important for the negotiation process to begin, and with the participation of the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, whom opponents consider the unofficial ruler of the country.
The political scientist notes that the only Georgian leader who did not have to flee the country after the change of power was the second president, Eduard Shevardnadze. According to Sharashenidze, the reason was that, given his age, Shevardnadze no longer posed a political threat to the country’s new leadership. The expert believes that “the vicious circle must be broken” and the forced emigration of Georgian leaders must stop, especially since, apparently, Bidzina Ivanishvili feels “most comfortable” in Georgia.
“If Ivanishvili behaves fairly and honestly, nothing will threaten him after he once loses power. And at this stage, a fair exit in the dialogue. At the same time, Ivanishvili must take into account that even if he does not want to be active in politics, he still participates in it, and politics is the art of compromise, “the expert summed up.
Tina Khidasheli from the NGO Civil Idea, a former Georgian defense minister, believes that when the political spectrum “fully operates in the regime of ultimatums,” the first victim is the country’s statehood. According to her, a meaningful dialogue, the purpose of which will be to reach a consensus, is the only way out of this situation..
“The parties must remember that each of them has very limited prospects for maneuvering, but at the same time – unlimited opportunities for making even bigger mistakes,” Khidasheli said..