Parliament Fall Session Opens, amid Opposition Protest

The autumn session of the parliament of Georgia opened on September 3 amid a protest outside the parliamentary building, triggered by nomination of Giorgi Gakharia as Prime Minister, to replace Mamuka Bakhtadze

Opposition European Georgia MPs started to blow into whistles right after the national anthem ended on the first plenary day and finally left the session in protest after the Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze announced a technical break.

Opposition assessment 

European Georgia MP Giga Bokeria said, the situation in Georgia is “not normal” and that the ruling Georgian Dream party Chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili has “pushed the country to a very dangerous direction only becasue [he] has gone [politically] bankrupt and seeks solution in radicalization.”

“Naturally, [Ivanishvili’s move] will be met by a peaceful, but very sharp protest at every level and they [the government] will have to get used to that. However, the most logical ending is their removal from government …through peaceful elections,” he said.

United National Movement’s Roman Gotsiridze said that Ivanishvili has set up “an apparently pro-Russian government”, and that he has “successfully fulfiled all the instructions received from Russia” after the clash in front of the parliament on June 20. Gotsiridze said that by naming Gakharia as next PM, Ivanishvili aims “cling to power no matter the means”,  sing “his own vassals, whose main quality is not their professionalism and patriotism, but their personal devotion [to Ivanishvili],” Gotsiridze stated.  

As the opposition walked out, the majority MPs continued the session according to the preliminary agenda.

Ruling party assessment

As the opposition walked out, the majority MPs continued the session according to the agenda. In their remarks, they responded to the opposition’s criticism as well.

Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said he would not let anyone to violate the regulations and hinder parliament’s functioning. “We will continue the session anyway”, he added.

According to the Parliamentary Majority leader Gia Volski, those, who have written “no occupation” on their shirts and posters (referring to opposition MPs), “are themselves the main authors of occupation.” He said the only goal of the ruling party opponents is “to put an equal mark” between “the evil they have committed” and the developments of June 20-21. However, he said, “no equal mark will be put.”

In her remarks, Vice-Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili hoped that the cabinet reshuffle would bring “very important breakthrough” on the political arena and create “better space for cooperation.” “I want to hope that the opposition will find the strength in themselves to support the changes they themselves demanded. However, some of their steps are not hopeful at all,” Chugoshvili stated.

A protest was held outside the building the whole day. One of the protest leaders, Giga Makarashvili, said the government has lost its legitimacy, and therefore, it should quit. Another leader, Shota Digmelashvili, called on the ruling party not to vote in Giorgi Gakharia and to lead the country calmly into peaceful, proportional elections next year. 

Civic activists and politicians who have been demanding Gakharia’s resignation from the post of Interior Minister, gathered in front of the parliament of Georgia for the 76th day today, to protest his “promotion” to Prime Minister’s position.

Gakharia’s resignation has been among the three main demands of the demonstrators since the evening of June 20, when the protest rally, triggered by Russian MPs’ visit to Georgia, was dispersed by police through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets, including so called “less-lethal” rounds. 240 people, including 80 police officers and over 30 journalists were injured as a result.   

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