The Georgian opposition should call off their threats of boycotting parliament and instead fight for change within the parliament, a senior US State Department official told the traveling press at a briefing Wednesday.
“So to see them calling for a boycott again is like watching the same movie again. We’re encouraging them to go into parliament, do electoral change that’s meaningful so that the next elections will be better and we won’t see – they won’t see – this same repeat of the same kinds of violations,” an unidentified official said according to a press release published on the State Department website.
There were plenty of violations during the October 31 vote, including vote buying, voter intimidation, and the abuse of administrative resources in terms of bringing civil servants out to vote, the official continued.
“What gave many of us pause is the results, the tabulations were not that far off. The official results were very within, in some cases, percentage points of the PVTs that were done by the local observers. And so it wasn’t immediately clear that these were sort of fatally flawed elections. How much worse than previous ones that had not been challenged with calls for new elections?” the official said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Tbilisi November 17 and 18. He met with the Georgian president, the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, and representatives of several non-governmental organizations. He also met the head of the influential Georgian Orthodox Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II Wednesday morning.
Pompeo had not scheduled a meeting with opposition political parties during his stay, which caused much disappointment among their ranks. The opposition held a special “silent rally” to greet the US secretary of state.
Later, however, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker held a meeting with representatives of opposition parties.
All eight opposition parties which achieved more than one percent in the October 31 election and qualified for seats in parliament claim the election was totally rigged and refuse to accept its results. Official results show the ruling Georgian Dream winning a majority, and the party will form a new government. The opposition says it will not participate in the next parliament and declines to take part in the runoff elections for single-mandate districts.
Two rounds of negotiations were held in recent days with mediation by European and American diplomats, but the parties failed to reach a compromise.