Former government ministers Kvirikashvili, Janelidze call for easing confrontation after arrest of UNM chair Melia

  • Janelidze and Kvirikashvili made comments on their social media pages following the arrest of Melia in Tbilisi on Tuesday. Photos via Mikheil Janelidze page on Facebook, Giorgi Kvirikashvili page on Facebook., 23 Feb 2021 - 15:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's former prime minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and former foreign minister Mikheil Janelidze have reacted to the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia on Tuesday and subsequent political tensions in the country by calling on the government to avoid confrontation, with Janelidze also making a call for repeat parliamentary elections.

The two former government members made their appeals on social media after United National Movement chair Melia was arrested at the party offices in Tbilisi by law enforcement, resulting in heightened tensions in the country and concern with regard to the move from international partners.

Reacting to the events at the UNM offices earlier in the day on his social media account, Kvirikashvili said the government now faced a "difficult choice" of "finding judicial tools for freeing Nika Melia from detention in the shortest possible time" before making sure a "confrontational spiral" was avoided by the country.

The former PM added the alternative to this vision would mean a "significant retreat and derailment from" Georgia's aspirations of "taking its honourable spot in the family of Western democracies". In his post Kvirikashvili also made clear the opinion was not to be taken as condoning UNM politics.

Janelidze, who made a brief post on his account that said repeat parliamentary elections were "the only correct step" for the government and condemned "demonstration of strength" between political forces in the country. The former FM's comments called the latter phenomenon "shameful and disastrous" and said they set the political scene on a "closed cycle".

Melia was arrested at UNM offices earlier on Tuesday, with opposition members and activists present on the scene. The party chairperson was detained after refusing to pay bail on the case of his participation in the June 20, 2019 protest that turned violent in front of the Parliament of Georgia.