Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In Georgia, opposition leader arrested in violent police operation


Tensions have escalated in Georgia, a country plunged into political crisis since parliamentary elections last year. Police arrested Nika Melia, an opposition leader on Tuesday (February 23), in a violent raid on his party’s headquarters, according to live footage from Mtavari television.

Read also Georgia shaken by political crisis, dozens of opposition protesters arrested

The leader of Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement, was taken out of his political establishment to be remanded in custody. Hundreds of riot police then used tear gas against his supporters and leaders of all opposition parties who have been camping outside the building since Wednesday. Dozens of opposition supporters were also arrested.

The police operation follows the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia on Thursday, who cited a disagreement within the ruling party over the application of a court order to remand Mr Melia in pre-trial detention.

The raid sparked outrage from the opposition and warnings from the Western allies of the former Soviet country. “Shocked by the scenes at the MNU headquarters this morning”British Ambassador Mark Clayton wrote on Twitter. “Violence and chaos in Tbilisi is the last thing Georgia needs right now. I urge all parties to act with restraint, now and in the days to come. “

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Tensions since the legislative elections

Nika Melia has dismissed the charges against him for “Organization of mass violence” during the anti-government protests in 2019, believing them to be political in nature.

The order to arrest Melia has deepened a political crisis that has plagued the Caucasus nation since the parliamentary elections last October.

Opposition parties claimed the ballot was rigged after the Georgian Dream claimed a narrow victory. In the wake of Mr. Gakharia’s resignation, they called for early elections.

Read also United States: open inquiry into Trump’s post-election pressure in Georgia

Last week, the United States and the European Union expressed concern over the decision to arrest an opposition leader, calling on the Georgian government to resolve the crisis peacefully and ensure that its judicial system remains free from any political bias.

The World with AFP



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