Following a joint opposition meeting at United National Movement (UNM) office, UNM’s Tina Bokuchava announced today that the opposition will modify the conduct and dates of its rallies.
“We do not want the government to use our protests as an excuse to disrupt the talks resumed after [European Council] President Michel’s mediation,” said Bokuchava.
According to her, a large-scale demonstration on Rustaveli Avenue, outside the Georgian Parliament building, previously scheduled to take place on March 13, has been rescheduled for March 20.
Bokuchava also noted that the opposition will not picket the Government Chancellery building tomorrow, and will instead hold a driving march from Tbilisi’s First Republic Square to the southeastern city of Rustavi, where Nika Melia, the top opposition leader is serving his controversial pre-trial detention.
Ahead of President Charles Michel’s Tbilisi visit, the opposition on February 26 unveiled a busy agenda of street rallies for the first two weeks of March to make the government release the alleged political prisoners and schedule snap elections.
But on March 1, European Council President Charles Michel brought the opposing sides together to relaunch post-election talks, stalled since early December. Despite the pledge to continue the dialogue, the opposition on March 2 picketed – albeit without actually blocking the building – the Parliament and the authorities responded by arresting seven opposition activists.
Prime Minister Iraki Garibashvili said the opposition acted “inconsistently” and “destructively” by picketing the Parliament only some twelve hours after the dialogue was re-launched.
The Government and the boycotting opposition now have less than two weeks to achieve progress over the political stalemate, before the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting in Brussels in mid-March.