Published: Thu, November 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Riot police use water cannons to disperse Georgia protesters AFP

Riot police use water cannons to disperse Georgia protesters AFP

Some hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the parliament building to protest after the government backed down on a promise to reform the election system that supports the ruling party.

Amid protests of civic activists and opposition parties and ongoing blockage of the Parliament's entrances, Kakha Kaladze, secretary general of the ruling Georgian Dream party and Mayor of Tbilisi, said at a news briefing on November 18 that the United National Movement was "the true organizer" of the protest rally, calling Parliament's blockage "a cheap, destructive performance".

Police used water cannon to disperse the protesters. Basically abstained from voting the majority of deputies from the ruling party "Georgian dream".

The "unexpected halting" of the planned changes has "increased mistrust and heightened tensions between the ruling party and other political parties and civil society", the US and European Union missions to the Caucasus republic said in a joint statement Sunday.

The rally dispersed peacefully on Sunday night but entrances to the parliament building remain blocked by dozens of protesters who say no lawmakers will be allowed to pass through.

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Opposition leaders said they suspected the failure of the electoral reform was orchestrated by Ivanishvili, although he denied manipulating the process.

The delegation of the European Union in Georgia and the embassy of the United States of America recognize the "deep disappointment" of the Georgian people due to the inability of the parliament to adopt amendments that will ensure the transition to full proportional representation from the existing mixed system in the 2020 elections.

The Georgian Dream won almost 77 percent of seats in the 2016 parliamentary election despite garnering only 48.7 percent of the vote.

"This is our peaceful, nonviolent demonstration against this regime", stated opposition party member Giorgi Baramidze. Georgian Dream proposed the changes to the electoral system after clashes between police and demonstrators during anti-government protests in June. The party has lost most of its popularity amid a slowdown in economic development and major rollbacks to democracy, the rule-of-law and the party's pro-Russian policies.

Critics have accused Ivanishvili of persecuting political opponents, suffocating critical media, and creating a corrupt political system where his private interests dominate government decision-making.

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