"Let's score a triumphant victory" - ruling party holds large-scale rally in Tbilisi
Ruling Georgian Dream’s pre-election rally
Several thousand supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party gathered in the center of Tbilisi on October 27. The rally was timed to coincide with the upcoming second round of elections to local self-government bodies that is scheduled to occur two days later, on October 30.
Officials announced this rally as an alternative to a large-scale rally held on October 14 by the leading opposition United National Movement party (founded by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is currently on a hunger strike in a prison in Georgia).
The opposition rally on October 14 was accompanied by multiple incidents. In particular, activists of the ruling party blocked the roads with the convoys of cars heading to Tbilisi from different regions of Georgia.
On October 2, 2021, elections to local self-government bodies were held in Georgia. 64 mayors and 2,044 deputies of local councils – “sakrebulo” were elected. The ruling Georgian Dream party received 46.69% of the vote, the main opposition party United National Movement – 30.7%. However, in almost all large cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti and Zugdidi – mayors will be chosen in the second round of elections where candidates from the ruling party and the United National Movement will participate.
The Georgian opposition describe the municipal elections as a referendum on confidence in the authorities, the results of which will determine whether the early parliamentary elections will be called.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, chairman of the ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker of the Parliament Kakha Kuchava, Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani, Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze and other leaders of the Georgian Dream spoke at the rally.
The billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the Georgian Dream party who is considered the shadow ruler of the country, was also expected to particpate, however, he never showed up.
The prime minister once again thanked Bidzina Ivanishvili and said that the government “must secure a final triumphant victory” in the second round of elections on October 30.
“Sooner or later, justice will prevail. We will not forgive anyone for the oppression of our people, the loss of our territories, we will not forgive the selling of our land”, the prime minister said.
Garibashvili also said that “no one can be forgiven for cursing the patriarch”, and stated that the church is the foundation of the state.
The prime minister also said that many in the country live in poverty and suffer from unemployment. “We have a lot to fix. History is the best teacher, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past”, Garibashvili said.
The chairman of the ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze also began his speech with gratitude to Bidzina Ivanishvili. The Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani also said that “it is impossible to transfer power to those who are fighting against the patriarch, the holy icon and the cross”.
Tsulukiani also addressed the imprisoned ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili:
“Look from your prison cell – see how many people here remember your brutal regime? Today we are still struggling with it. Many of our supporters thought that if [Saakashvili], this great evil, was imprisoned, the struggle would end – but no! The struggle for a better Georgia does not end so easily, new and many other battles await us”, said the Minister of Culture.
“We are the government that opened the borders with the European Union, the government which is working to open the doors of the EU and NATO for our country. This was initiated not by the lying Saakashvili, but by a large group of diplomats”, Tsulukiani said.
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- Op-ed: Why Saakashvili came and will there be a Georgian Maidan
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At the rally, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said that “the residents of Georgia have entrusted the current government with the responsibility to protect the strength of the state and the church, human dignity and freedom”.
Kaladze entered the second round of the mayoral elections in Tbilisi, he is running against the leader of the opposition United National Movement, Nika Melia.
Speaking at the rally, Kaladze promised “to live up to the trust of the residents of Tbilisi at the cost of his life”.
During the rally in Tbilisi, activists hung out a banner ‘Freedom to Misha!’ on the balcony of the Ozurgeti city hall.
On the evening of October 26, Formula TV reported that it had evidence that the ruling party was paying 50 lari [approximately $ 15] for the participation in the rally.