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Opposition representatives meet to discuss 2020 elections

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Tuesday, March 10
After reaching an agreement with the authorities on the electoral system, the opposition held a meeting yesterday, March 9th, with a joint statement regarding the detained oppositionists. They called on the President and other relevant agencies to use the legitimate mechanisms at their disposal and to support the release of Gigi Ugulava, Giorgi Rurua, Irakli Okruashvili and Besik Tamliani.

The opposition explained that they still disagreed with the authorities that the men were political prisoners but agreed that these issues should be resolved in the future without the feeling of being used for political purposes.

In addition, the opposition considers it important not to review the political decisions taken against these persons or to return them to prison for other political cases [upon release]. Also, they say, repressive steps should not be taken against other politicians and activists.

The opposition thanks the US, EU and German ambassadors as well as a representative of the Council of Europe for their help in reaching an agreement and stressing the contribution of civil activists to the electoral system.

Parliamentary elections of 2020 will be held at a ratio of 120/30 as was decided on March 8 at an informal meeting between the opposition and the ruling team at the US ambassador's residence. The government team and the opposition have agreed that a party that lacks 40% support will not be able to form a government. As for the threshold, it is 1%.

Demonstrations for the proportional electoral system began in the summer after police dispersed a protest rally on the night of June 20th. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, pledged to the public that by 2020 the country would switch to this system and work on the bill. However, later the Georgian Dream lawmakers again threw the bill down.

After weeks of protests, diplomatic talks between the opposition and the ruling party began with the mediation of diplomats, where the ruling party offered the opposition to increase its proportional mandates to 100 and reduce the majority to 50. However, the opposition did not agree with this ratio and demanded a more proportional system.

Negotiations broke down after the arrest of European Georgia member Gigi Ugulava. The Supreme Court ruled on the case on which Ugulava was convicted several years ago on February 10. The opposition described the incident as political revenge and a fight against the opposition.

Following the announcement of Ugulava's verdict, the opposition said it would suspend talks with the government over the electoral system and start protests. They said further negotiations would be pointless if the ruling party did not release the political prisoners and disagree with an electoral mechanism that would not allow a party with less than 40% support to form a government. The lawmakers of the Dream party described Ugulava's detention as "an adequate verdict" and refused to admit him as a political prisoner.