Protest rally, triggered by the parliament’s rejection of an electoral bill aimed at moving from a mixed system to a proportional one, has resumed on Monday evening after police used water cannon to disperse the demonstration.
Civic activists and opposition leaders addressed the crowd in front of the parliament building in downtown Tbilisi and called to continue the protest until their demands are met. Some of them still plan to stay overnight, while the rest have left the venue.
Meanwhile, after police cleared up the Rustaveli Avenue to resume traffic, the ruling party legislators managed to hold a bureau session, which had been postponed as protesters had been blocking the entrances to parliament since yesterday.
Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, who chaired the session, said upcoming parliamentary elections in 2020 will be conducted in “democratic, competitive and free environment”.
Therefore, he called on the opposition MPs to discuss the issue at parliamentary debates instead.
Secretary General of the ruling party, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze made a statement after the rally dispersal as well, saying the opposition has exceeded the legal frames.
We were warning the organisers of the rally that it was illegal to block the state institution, the parliament, however, as they saw that they lacked enough public support, the organisers of the rally attempted to aggravate the situation and lead the process to destructive, illegal activities”, Kaladze stated.
He said, despite the police warning and appeals from the government and international partners, they refused to return to constitutional frames. “Therefore”, Kaladze said, “the state fulfilled its obligations and stopped illegal blocking of entrace to the parliament [building]”.
Police and demonstrators clashed for several times on Monday, while the former was clearing up the main Rustaveli Avenue to restore traffic movement. Photo Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Interior Ministry reported late on Monday as well that a total of 37 persons, including one of the organisers of the protest rally Giga Makarashvili, have been detained during the dispersal for “disobedience” and “hooliganism”. The ministry also announced that four demonstrators and two law enforcers injured during the clash have been taken to hospital.
On November 18, during the demonstrations, #Police detained 37 persons under the Administrative Offences Code. 4 participants of the rally and 2 law enforcement officers were injured. Injured persons underwent relevant medical examinations in
— MIA of Georgia (@MIAofGeorgia) November 18, 2019
The ruling party-proposed bill aimed to holding 2020 parliamentary elections fully proportional, was scrapped last Thursday, as only 101 MPs voted for it instead of mandatory 113 in the 150-member parliament.
All of those 40 MPs who either voted against or abstained were from the ruling party, while all of the opposition legislators voted in favour. After the rejection of the bill, a total of 12 MPs, who had voted in favour, left the ruling party.
However, the ruling party has refused to discuss any new initiatives regarding the electoral system, saying the 2020 parliamentary elections will be again mixed.