Ruling Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze announced the EU-brokered April 19 deal as “annulled,” claiming it “served its mission and exhausted itself” 100 days after signing, with the majority of opposition lawmakers having refrained from joining.
“We can see our international partners do not find it necessary to strictly demand from the radical opposition to sign and participate in implementing the document,” said MP Kobakhidze. “One-sided loyalty to the April 19 agreement is insulting for our party, and our voters will not forgive us this.”
MP Kobakhidze pointed out that the opposition parties that signed the agreement received only 10% of the votes in the October 2020 parliamentary elections, while the electoral bloc led by the largest opposition United National Movement party, as well as the Alliance of Patriots, European Georgia and Labor party, the four opposition groups that received parliamentary mandates, refused to join the deal.
The GD party chair claimed the “radical opposition,” who did not sign the deal, were planning to “repeat their political sabotage” after the ruling party would pass the 43% threshold in the local polls in October. “The radical opposition is doing everything so that ahead of the elections the polarization deepens, instead of decreasing.”
About the provision on holding early elections if the GD receives less than 43% in local polls of October, MP Kobakhidze said: “We are ready to call snap elections on our goodwill, even if we receive 53% instead of 43%, as long as we see in the actions of the opposition parties that our political system is ripe for effective coalition governance.”
The GD chair argued that the ruling party had followed through with implementing the clauses of the deal on the release of alleged “political prisoners,” electoral reform and “pausing” Supreme Court appointments, and will further adopt constitutional amendments, judiciary reforms and amnesty law on the anti-occupation unrests of June 19-21, 2019.
He also argued that by “annulling” the agreement, the political processes in the country will continue in accordance with the “constitutional order.”
Ruling party’s move sparks opposition criticism
The ruling party’s withdrawal sparked criticism from opposition parties that had signed the April 19 Agreement, agreeing to end a half-a-year-long parliamentary boycott over what they called “rigged” 2020 parliamentary elections.
MP Mamuka Khazaradze, Lelo party leader, slammed the GD for “betraying our Western partners, the Georgian people, peace and stability.” He invited opposition parties for holding consultations on the way forward, “that could include boycotting the local elections.”
MP Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom announced that he is leaving the Parliament, and will again demand his mandate to be terminated. He said the GD’s withdrawal is a refusal to “the country’s Euro-Atlantic future.” “This is how dictatorship takes hold, slowly and arrogantly,” MP Japaridze stressed.
“Today it was officially confirmed that Georgia’s foreign [policy] orientation has changed,” said independent MP Salome Samadashvili, comparing the GD’s move to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych rejecting the Associated Agreement with the EU.
It is so far unclear how the GD’s decision will affect the opposition’s presence in the Parliament.
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