Tbilisi Riot Police Move in on Protests Against Election Results

Riot police with water cannons moved on Sunday to disperse protesters outside the central elections commission building in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. The marchers denounced last month’s election as rigged, and called for a new vote and the resignation of the commission chief Tamar Zhvania.

Police also used shields and a cordon to prevent the protesters from blockading the entrance to the commission. No injuries or deaths were immediately reported, according to Mtavari Tv.

Earlier Sunday, protesters gathered in the capital and gave the government an ultimatum of 8 p.m. for Zhvania’s resignation. The government rejected the demand.

Georgia’s ruling party, founded by its richest man, claimed victory in the Oct. 31 parliamentary elections. The Georgian Dream party of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili received 48.23% of votes to post its third straight victory over the main opposition bloc the United National Movement, which got 27.18% of the votes. The bloc nominated former President Mikheil Saakashvili as its premier if it won, but Saakashvili later refused the position.

Thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Tbilisi, displaying a giant poster of the ruling party leader and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un hand in hand. They are calling for the resignation of the central election commission before a new vote is held.

Georgia ordered a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Tbilisi and all major cities starting Nov. 9 to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The country reported 2,901 new cases and 34 deaths in the last 24 hours, slightly higher than the previous day. Leaders of the opposition asked protesters to wear face masks.

The restrictions ban all pedestrian and car movement, with exceptions for media, transport of groceries and health-related issues, according to Deputy Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili. Georgia’s previous curfew lasted from March to May.

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