Police in Tbilisi fire water cannon at protesters calling for election’s rerun

Police in Georgian capital Tbilisi fired water cannon and tear gas against hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Sunday to support a call by opposition parties for a rerun of parliamentary elections, held on 31 October, Reuters reported. The opposition is demanding the resignation of the CEC chief Tamar Zhvania, saying the elections were rigged.

Police said that protesters tried to storm the CEC building. Small groups of protesters started throwing stones at the police. The demonstrators had moved to the CEC building from the capital's main Rustaveli avenue, where thousands of people held a peaceful rally. According to official results, the ruling Georgian Dream party won 48.23% of the vote, with the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), taking 27.18%. After the result gave the ruling party the right to form a government, eight opposition parties, including the UNM, said they would boycott parliament.

The opposition accuses the ruling party and its supporters of vote buying, making threats against voters and observers and of violations during the counting process. Georgian Dream leaders have denied the accusations.

The economy of the South Caucasus country has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. The government said on Saturday it would impose an overnight curfew from Monday between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the largest cities due to a sharp rise in cases since early September.

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