In Georgia, political crisis deepens after contested local elections

“The fight is not over, it has just started. “ The chairman of the main opposition party in Georgia, Nika Melia, denounces elections ” rigged “ and called for mobilization the day after the second round of municipal elections, Saturday, October 30. The ballot was seen as a referendum for or against the ruling Georgian Dream party against the opposition United National Movement (MNU), founded by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, imprisoned on 1is October on his return from exile and on hunger strike for a month.

According to the Central Election Commission, Georgian Dream narrowly won the elections in nineteen out of twenty municipalities, including the capital, Tbilisi, where Mr. Melia stood on behalf of the UNM, facing the outgoing mayor, the former star footballer of the AC Milan, Kakhaber “Kakha” Kaladze. As of Sunday, several thousand opposition supporters gathered in front of Parliament to challenge these results. “There are no more elections in this country. Compatriots, you who share the values ​​of European democracy, prepare for a struggle without compromise ”said Nika Melia, announcing the “Biggest event ever organized” in Tbilisi, Saturday November 6.

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For their part, observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) considered that the elections had been “Well organized from a technical point of view”, but expressed concern about cases “Intimidation, vote buying and pressure on candidates and voters”. The OSCE had already noted violations after the first round of elections. The NGO Transparency International also denounces irregularities before and during the election, which may have “A serious impact on the ability of voters to exercise their free choice, as well as on election results”.

“Leave Parliament”

These contested elections further aggravate the political crisis that has shaken this former Soviet republic for a year. In October 2020, the ruling party claimed victory in the legislative elections, while the opposition denounced « cheats » and boycotted Parliament. An agreement to end the crisis had been painfully reached on April 19, under the aegis of the European Union (EU), before Georgian Dream decided, against all odds, to break it, in July, causing annoyance in Brussels. and Washington. This agreement notably provided for the ruling party to call early legislative elections if it won less than 43% of the vote in municipal elections.

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In Georgia, political crisis deepens after contested local elections