Thirteen Georgian civil society organizations (CSOs), including GDI, ISFED, and TI Georgia, said today they are ‘extremely concerned’ over the recently tabled bill by the ruling Georgian Dream party as “essentially aiming to impose sanctions on the opposition parties for expressing protest.”
Georgian parliamentary majority leader Irakli Kobakhidze announced earlier in the day a new bill package that envisages suspending state funding for the boycotting opposition, restrictions on free political ad airtime for these parties, as well as possible canceling of election registration for the United National Movement, the largest opposition party.
The CSOs argued recent statements by the ruling party members on restricting activities of opposition parties, as well as initiating legislation for this purpose, are “particularly concerning,” amid the ongoing political impasse.
The watchdogs said the Georgian Dream party’s “rhetoric is perceived as a threat directed against the opposition parties to follow government’s directives in order not to fall victim to the sanctions on part of the ruling party.”
“Such statements once again show that the authorities do not properly comprehend their own responsibility in the process of solving the existing crises,” the watchdogs said.
The new Georgian Parliament, elected through October 31 parliamentary elections, opened on December 11 with only Georgian Dream MPs in attendance. All eight opposition parties/blocs are refusing to enter the Parliament, citing election fraud and demanding revote.
The UNM-led bloc, the largest opposition group, European Georgia, Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, and Labor Party have already applied to the Central Election Commission to refuse their mandates, sticking to their initial demands. Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots, as well as the Citizens party and right-libertarian Girchi, have not yet applied to the CEC. The latter two, although not attending parliamentary sessions yet, are considering to quit boycott if the opposition clinches a deal with the ruling party.