TBILISI/Dec. 24 (The Bulletin) — The United States told Georgia’s government that it had to improve its commitment to democracy after weeks of anti-government protests and a counter-demonstration organised by the Georgian Dream coalition.
The intervention into the domestic politics of the US’ most loyal regional ally will be seen as a blow to Georgia leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country’s richest man and the architect of the Georgian Dream coalition.
In a statement, the US State Department said that it supported dialogue between opposition groups and the government.
“We urge the Georgian government to reinforce its commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law by ensuring that its judicial and prosecutorial system is free of political bias,” it said.
Rights groups have said that the Georgian Dream government has started to use the courts to pursue personal vendettas, allegations that the Georgian Dream government has denied. Opposition groups also accuse the Georgian Dream government of trying to interfere with the appointment of Supreme Court judges.
But a senior Georgian Dream official brushed off the implied criticism in the US statement.
“Anyone who can read this statement knows very well that it is actually supportive,” said Irakli Kobakhidze, the Georgian Dream executive secretary.
Protesters have demonstrated since MPs voted last month against backing plans to introduce proportional representation at next year’s parliamentary election. The government, though, in an attempted to compromise has said that the number of MPs elected by a first-past-the-post system will be reduced at the election.
— This story was first published in issue 432 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin on Dec. 27 2019