Three days ahead of Georgia’s general election, the government is trading barbs with the opposition with each side accusing each other of extreme measures, ranging from election rigging to staging a violent overthrow of the government.
Minister of Defense Irakli Garibashvili, who has previously served as prime minister, went as far as saying that the main opposition party, UNM, should be “abolished”.
“A traitor, who surrenders indigenous territories and holy places, a murderer and oppressor of the people, [Mikheil] Saakashvili, and his treacherous mob, can no longer remain in politics after the elections. The treacherous force must be abolished!” Garibashvili wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday.
Party secretary Irakli Kobakhidze of the ruling Georgian Dream said the same day that UNM was planning a “revolutionary scenario” which involved establishing a special “headquarters” presided by Vano Merabishvili, a former prime minister who is a close ally of Mikheil Saakashvili, who was president of the former Soviet republic from 2004 till 2013 and remains a figurehead for his party the UNM.
“The [United] National Movement, in addition to the official election headquarters, has opened a so-called revolutionary headquarters headed by the criminal Vano Merabishvili, whose task is to provoke citizens, encourage violence and turn the political process into a revolutionary scenario,” Kobakhidze said at a briefing held at the Georgian Dream headquarters.
Kobakhidze went on to claim that the UNM’s preparations for a revolution are taking place in several municipalities, listing Marneuli, Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Batumi and the Gldani neighborhood of the capital Tbilisi.
“We would like to state that any attempt to disrupt the election process will be severely punished,” Kobakhidze added.
The UNM called the accusations absurd and painted it as a desperate last-ditch attempt by Georgian Dream in the face of imminent election defeat.
“I want to explain what this briefing by Irakli Kobakhidze means. We see that in fact, Georgian Dream is losing this election and is losing face every day in anticipation of this loss,” Salome Samadashvili of UNM responded.
“Georgian Dream is in pre-election agony before its inevitable defeat,” said Zaal Udumashvili of UNM.
UNM plans to hold a rally in front of parliament at 8 pm on Saturday, just after the closing of polling stations, he said.
Another opposition party claimed the government is preparing to rig the October 31 elections and enforce a country-wide lockdown just after polls.
“According to our reliable information, the Georgian Dream is planning to announce a lockdown on Monday [November 2],” Giga Bokeria of the opposition party European Georgia (EG) said.
“With this step, they are going to increase the odds before the second round, because they realize that they will not win the elections,” he said.
“Serious debate is needed on this topic. We invite the leaders of the GD and the UNM to a serious discussion on this topic in the remaining three days. We also ask the TV channels to pay serious attention to this issue,” said Giga Bokeria, who is the EG candidate in Samegrelo.