TBILISI — Leaders of Georgian opposition parties have announced fresh rallies protesting the results of recent parliamentary elections, despite efforts by the United States and European Union to facilitate talks between opposition parties and the ruling Georgian Dream party.
Zaal Udumashvili, a leader of the United National Movement (ENM), said that the rally planned for November 14 will include all opposition parties and will again challenge the results of the October 31 vote that gave the Georgian Dream party its third-consecutive election victory.
Meanwhile, a leader of the European Georgia party, Gigi Ugulava, announced that opposition activists will hold rallies in downtown Tbilisi during the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on November 17-18.
According to Ugulava, opposition activists and their supporters will make human chains along central streets of the Georgian capital, holding posters rejecting the official results of the elections.
Georgian Dream, founded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, came in first in the poll with 48.15 percent, while ENM’s bloc had 27.14 percent and European Georgia, led by a number of former ENM members, was third with 3.78 percent.
Opposition parties have said they would boycott the recently elected parliament, claiming the vote was rigged. Runoff elections will be held in 15 districts, all but ensuring the ruling party will secure a majority in parliament, on November 21.
Udumashvili’s comments came after the United States and European Union facilitated talks between the Georgian Dream party and the eight opposition parties that passed the threshold for entering parliament.
EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell and French Ambassador Diego Colas were present at the talks, held at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Georgia.
After the November 12 talks, parliament Chairman Archil Talakvadze of Georgian Dream said the meeting was “a positive beginning of political consultations,” adding that “there is no way to expect immediate results after the first meeting.”
Davit Bakradze, a leader of the opposition European Georgia party, said after the talks that the ongoing political crisis could be solved via a dialogue to find compromises, but added that the solution cannot be reached “at the expense of the country’s national interests.”
Bakradze said earlier that the legislative elections “were neither free nor fair” and that his party did not accept the official results.
On November 9, police used water cannons to disperse a rally organized by opposition parties in Tbilisi that demanded the resignation of Georgia’s Central Election Commission and the holding of new parliamentary elections.