The ruling Georgian Dream party has called on the opposition to resume electoral reform talks, saying that “dialogue and consensus have no alternative.”
Speaking at a news briefing on February 12, Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the parliamentary majority, said that “it is an expectation of the public, as well as a recommendation of our international partners that will promote stabilization of processes and peaceful, constructive solution of existing challenges.”
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He then thanked the U.S. Embassy for its February 11 statement, emphasizing the importance of a dialogue between the government and the opposition.
Commenting on recent imprisonment of Gigi Ugulava, one of the leaders of the European Georgia party, Mdinaradze said that he shares the disappointment expressed by the U.S. Embassy that the timing and context of the conviction and sentencing of an opposition leader coincided with the dialogue on electoral system.
“However, I would like to note that enforcement of justice is a prerogative of an independent court rather than politicians or any single politician,” Mdinaradze said, adding that “politics cannot be a shelter or any indulgence for criminals.”
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Mdinaradze also noted that the Georgian Dream has introduced “a high standard,” according to which any person charged with misappropriation of public funds or other similar crimes should be equally accountable to the law. As an example, he named some of the current and former Georgian Dream officials, including ex-Batumi mayor, who was arrested on charges of corruption.
Mamuka Mdinaradze offered opponents, who slammed Ugulava’s imprisonment as illegal, to file a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights and called on them to stop using legal proceedings for political purposes.
Following the Ugulava’s verdict the opposition parties decided to cease electoral reform talks with the ruling Georgian Dream party, and announced a protest rally on Tbilisi’s main Rustaveli Avenue on April 4, where they will unveil a joint action plan for the upcoming parliamentary polls in October.