The US Department of State has responded to current political turmoil in Georgia in regards to the possible arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia and the recent resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and called on political parties in the country ‘to show restraint and avoid escalatory actions or rhetoric.’
We're deeply concerned by developments in Georgia & call on all parties to show restraint and avoid escalatory actions or rhetoric. The U.S. urges Georgia to act in line with its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We reaffirm our support for Georgia's democracy. https://t.co/x6AOzlVzr5— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 18, 2021
The US Embassy in Georgia has stated that they appreciate the restraint shown by the authorities and the opposition in responding to the events surrounding the Melia case.
It is imperative that all those involved commit to de-escalating the current tensions so that a way forward can be agreed upon,” said the embassy.
The embassy stated that ‘Georgia is facing extremely serious challenges’ and that ‘it is in the best interests of the people of Georgia’ that this political crisis be resolved quickly and peacefully.
Gakharia said yesterday that he resigned because he had failed to make an agreement with the ruling Georgian Georgian Dream party over the arrest of opposition MP, the head of the United National Movement party Melia.
Gakharia said that Melia’s arrest was legal. However, he stated that the detention amid the current political crisis would threaten further destabilisation.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has tweeted:
As the guarantor of this country’s independence, sovereignty, Europeanness, democratic development and therefore stability, reflecting on the interests of the country and of every citizen, I believe that we will all be victorious through calm and development. pic.twitter.com/8WMoKB8UAY— Salome Zourabichvili (@Zourabichvili_S) February 18, 2021
The head of the Georgian Dream ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze responded that the reasons named by Gakharia why Melia should not be arrested were ‘weak.’
The party nominated Defence Minister, former PM Irakli Garibashvili for premiership again.
Melia and the opposition have welcomed Gakharia’s resignation. However, they have demanded an ‘urgent meeting’ with the ruling party, with the mediation of foreign ambassadors’ to come to an agreement on repeat elections.
51 of 60 opposition MPs who won seats in the October 31 parliamentary elections, including Melia have refused to take up their mandates.
They say that the elections were fabricated and have been demanding repeat elections since November 2020.
The ruling party repeated yesterday that the ‘repeat elections are not on the agenda.’