November 9, 2020: Thousands of people gathered outside the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Tbilisi, protesting the outcome of recent elections in Georgia which handed the ruling party a third consecutive term. The police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.
“Despite numerous callings, protesters continued to apply violent actions & ignored lawful demands of police, as a result, MIA acted in accordance with the law & applied proportional force,” said first deputy minister Kakha Sabanadze in a press briefing.
Responding to the protests, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said “Yesterday we saw the totally irresponsible, radical part of the opposition calling for disobedience, an attempt to storm the Central Election Commission and, most importantly, insults hurled against police officers and doctors, those who are the backbone of the country today in its fight against various crises, and we, in fact, heard direct calls for destroying state institutions. We all must understand that this is not a task facing just the law enforcements. The state’s response must be legitimate and tough.”
“Every process seeking to take matters to the street, like what we saw yesterday, must be, on our own initiative and that of our strategic partners, transferred onto a legal and political platform,” he added.
United National Movement (UNM), the country’s largest opposition party rejected the election results. The ruling Georgia Dream party won 48.23% of the vote while the United National Movement (UNM) won 27.18% votes. The protester’s demanded a new vote and accused the governing party of rigging the poll. According to Reuters, eight opposition parties in Georgia have already said they would boycott parliament over the results of the vote. The ruling Georgian Dream Party, incumbent since 2012, has denied all accusations of election fraud.
Protests erupted in Georgia after the October 31 election, in which the ruling Georgia Dream party claimed victory. Earlier, some 45,000 opposition supporters had rallied outside the Georgian parliament, denouncing alleged fraud.
“This regime and this government are illegitimate … these results are illegitimate,” said UNM leader Nika Melia.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in a report noted that “elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected.” However, the organisation also noted “ pervasive allegations of pressure on voters” which blurred the line between state and party and “reduced public confidence in some aspects of the process”. The report also noted that most interlocutors of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) did not raise significant concerns about the accuracy of the voter list.