Several thousand opponents took to the streets in Georgia on Sunday to call for new elections, accusing the authorities of having rigged previous ones for the benefit of the ruling party.
According to official figures, the Georgian Dream party, owned by billionaire Bidzina Ivanichvili, won the October 31 elections with just over 48 percent of the votes, beating all opponents by two points.
Anti-government formations have denounced fraud and are refusing to enter parliament, raising fears of a new political crisis in this country, where elections are often hectic and regularly marked by major demonstrations.
The main anti-government party, the United National Movement (MNU) of former President Mikheïl Saakashvili, had achieved an alliance with all other opposition formations with the promise of forming a coalition government in the event of victory.
The main artery of the capital was transformed into a sea of Georgian flags as protesters gathered before parliament.
“We demand the replacement of the totally discredited electoral administration and the holding of a new vote,” a MNU official, Salomé Samadachvili, told AFP, adding that “it would allow to maintain stability in the country” and that the “Georgian dream has not received a democratic mandate to remain in power ”.
Prime Minister Guiorgui Gakharia assured that the elections marked “another important milestone in Georgia’s democratic development,” criticizing the opposition for organizing mass rallies amid the covid-19 epidemic.
Guirgui Gakharia, who tested positive for the coronavirus, has been in quarantine for a week and has announced a nightly curfew in several large cities starting Monday.
The exact composition of the parliament is not yet known.