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Georgian Dream signs a document created under the auspices of Charles Michel

Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Archil Talakvadze on April 16, said that the Georgian Dream was ready to sign a document created under the auspices of Charles Michel.  According to Talakvadze, it was decided to sign the document before party chairman, Irakli Kobakhidze’s visit to the United States. At the same time, according to the Speaker of the Parliament, if the ruling party does not get 40% in Municipal elections, they will discuss the demands of the opposition regarding the snap elections.

The court left Nika Melia in custody

According to the April 13 decision of the Tbilisi City Court, Nika Melia, the chairman of the United National Movement, remained in pre-trial detention. The next court hearing will be held on April 29. Judge Chakhnashvili rejected the motion of the defence to add the recent interview of Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, as evidence in the case. Speaking to Rustavi 2 TV, Irakli Kobakhidze said that PM Gakharia initially supported the arrest of Nika Melia, but changed his mind only after 5:00 PM. Opposition considers this as a clear evidence that the decision of the arrest was made by the ruling party, before the official ruling of the court, which was announced only at 22:20 PM.

Six Georgian Dream MPs Quit to Join Gakharia’s Forthcoming Party

Six Georgian Dream MPs left the parliamentary majority and announced that they will join Giorgi Gakharia’s party On April 14. Giorgi Khojevanishvili said at the press conference that they had made the decision together with Giorgi Gakharia to “move to a new stage of party building.” According to him, they will continue their work in the parliament with the status of independent MPs. Khojevanishvili pointed out that those who left the party share the “successes and failures” of the Georgian Dream.

Giorgi Gakharia’s departure from the Georgian Dream was assessed by the representatives of the government and the opposition. The chairman of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, said that “no one can be successful with such a beginning.” The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze, said that “The attitude that Giorgi Gakharia showed during the last difficult situation and in his relationship with the team is wrong and inconsistent.” He added:”I think this[Giorgi Gakharia in opposition] will be a much greater problem for the opposition, which chose street protests over participation in parliamentary processes. This is what happens in politics – when the opposition refuses to hold its place, another takes it.” The leader of the European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, said: “I am not in favor of conspiracy theories, but of course the version that all this is an attempt to make Team B for Ivanishvili is worthy of attention . If this is not the case, They’ll have to prove that with their actions.” Davit Chichinadze, the leader of the Tribuna party, said that “Gakharia is being created as a political leader who will cause a political crisis. This will be used as a cause to call early elections”

Several leaders left the party European Georgia, and Giga Bokeria was elected  as a chairman

The convention of the party “European Georgia” was held on April 10. The convention of the party elected Giga Bokeria as a  chairman of  “European Georgia”.   Akaki Bobokhidze was elected as secretary-general and Gigi Tsereteli as chairman of the Political Council.  These positions in the party were vacated after Davit Bakradze and Gigi Ugulava decided to leave the party. Givi Targamadze, Levan Tarkhnishvili and Goka Gabashvili also left European Georgia. The   newly elected chairman  Giga Bokeria  said  that “Everyone who was in our team and still continues to serve the interests of our country is our partner.”

Former party chairman Davit Bakradze said that everything, like the party, needs to be renewed and that is why, after a four-year chairmanship, he will not run at the party’s next convention , which will be held in May. His position was shared by the party’s secretary-general Gigi Ugulava. He said that like Bakradze, he was not going to participate in the election for  secretary-general at the convention . In response, Akaki Bobokhidze said that “leaders are born only in competition and not by giving up roads.”

Protests Against Namakhvani HPP Continue

“Rioni Gorge Guards” have been protesting against the construction of a hydropower plant in the gorge for several months now. On April 12, the situation in the gorge escalated again when police dismantled tents where activists had been protesting the construction of the Namakhvani HPP in the gorge for more than 160 days. The Interior Ministry said that due to the weather forecast, a significant rise in water levels was expected, which could lead to overflowing of the riverbed and flooding of the surrounding areas, so it became necessary to dismantle tents “to protect the lives and health of protesters.” Activists disagree with the MIA version of a possible flood and accuse the police of violating their right to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as of trying to quell their protest. The leader of the “Rioni Gorge Guards”, Varlam Goletiani, said that the locals were going to move the tents to an alternative place in the village of Namakhvani, but the police did not allow them to do so.

Transparency International-Georgia, a non-governmental organization, said on April 12 that the actions taken by the state in the Rioni Gorge grossly violated the constitutional rights of people gathered there, both for freedom of movement and expression.

On April 14, the Interior Ministry said that the 6 people were arrested in village Gumati, where protestors rallied against the Enka office (constructor company of   Namakhvan HPP).  Clashes between police and protestors occurred on April 13. Varlam Goletiani accused police of using force and injuring protesters. Another local activist, Marita Museliani, also accused the police of using “disproportionate force”, noting that “excessive force was not needed to bring order.”

The organizers of the rally met with government officials on April 16. Speaking to the media, the leader of the protest, Varlam Goletiani, said that “we are entering a mode of constructive dialogue because there was a substantial sense of compromise on their part.” Leri Barnabishvili, head of the government’s administration’s regional relations department, said after the meeting that they had promised the activists that their questions would be answered comprehensively, but this would take some time.

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EGI Political Digest was created with support from Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC). The views and opinions expressed in this Digest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EGI or SILC.

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