Georgian street protests, negotiations running simultaneously. Photo report
Several thousand people, including activists from the regions, took part in another protest demonstration on November 14 in Tbilisi in front of the parliament building, demanding the scheduling of new parliamentary elections.
The protest took place against the background of ongoing negotiations between the opposition and the authorities, mediated by the diplomatic corps and international organizations – more on this below.
The rally lasted about three hours, its participants dispersed at about 18.00. It has been announced that the next rally will take place on November 17, the day US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Georgia – and this rally will be a ‘silent protest.’
All opposition forces in Georgia have declared the October 31 elections to be rigged. Seven parties that have crossed the electoral threshold have refused to take up their mandates and are holding protests and demanding new elections.
One of the first protests was violently dispersed by police using water cannons, injuring dozens of people, including journalists.
The authorities insist that the October 31 elections were free and democratic. International organizations admit that there were violations, but consider the elections to be valid.
In the center of Tbilisi, traffic was blocked during the rally. Protesters wore masks and tried to keep their distance, given that the epidemiological situation in Georgia has taken a turn for the worst in recent weeks, with more than 3,000 new cases reported in the country every day.
The opposition and the government entered into a dialogue through the mediation of foreign diplomats. However, the opposition’s demands remain unchanged – they demand new parliamentary elections be announced, and for the chairwoman of the Central Election Commission, Tamar Zhvania , and employees of the CEC to resign.
At the protest rally, political leaders once again stated that ‘no opposition force will enter the parliament formed as a result of election fraud.’
“It is a merit of you, the people, that 12 days after the elections, the authorities are meeting with the opposition and listening to our demands,” one of the leaders of the United National Movement, Nika Melia, said while addressing protesters.
Negotiations between the opposition and the authorities
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and other diplomats accredited to Georgia mediated the dialogue between the government and the opposition.
The first meeting took place on November 12, the second took place at the residence of the US Ambassador to Georgia on November 14, a few hours before the start of the rally.
Both rounds of negotiations were unsuccessful. The parties remain in their positions, although they do not refuse further negotiations.
After the November 14 meeting, Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze, in fact, once again confirmed that the government was not going to call new elections:
“We welcome the format of the dialogue and try to bring our positions as close as possible […] We are ready to continue this dialogue in parliament. Political stability now meets the interests of the entire society and state.”
Tbilisi Mayor Kakhi Kaladze, who is also secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party, told reporters that the opposition had been asked to recount ballots and review the videos taken at polling stations.
“But our opponents rejected both proposals,” Kaladze said.
The opposition, however, claims that it has to insist on new elections, as the CEC refused to consider concrete cases of fraud presented to it. Also, the CEC does has not considered the conclusions made by Georgian non-governmental organizations following the election results.
“So far, the positions are far from each other, but we agreed to continue the dialogue,” said David Bakradze, leader of the opposition European Georgia party.