In Georgia, thousands call for government to step down

Thousands of people have gathered in Tbilisi, waving national and EU flags and demanding that the government resign in their call for electoral reform. Riot police have clashed with protesters trying to block parliament.

Riot police have used water cannons to scatter dozens of protesters gathered near Georgia’s parliament early on Tuesday, as they tried to blockade parts of the building and prevent lawmakers from entering later in the day.

Read more: Georgia’s parliament backs ‘Moscow’s man’ for prime minister

The demonstrators were among thousands who gathered in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, earlier in the evening, demanding electoral reforms. 

Hours earlier, protesters were waving national and EU flags, chanting “Change!” and “Resign!”

But their demands were ignored. “If protesters violate the law, the state will act adequately,” Mamuka Mdinaradze, a lawmaker from the ruling party, told the Reuters news agency. 

Giorgi Vashadze, one of the opposition leaders, told reporters that several people, including one opposition politician, had been detained by police.

Protesters demanding the government's resignation and early parliamentary polls rally in front of the parliament (Getty Images/AFP/V. Shlamov)

Protesters held up an anti-Russia placard, denouncing Russian influence in the country

Rally for electoral change

Just last week, Georgia’s ruling party backtracked on electoral reformsin the former Soviet country, causing demonstrators to take to the streets. Protesters said they were fighting not just for alterations to the electoral system, but for democracy itself.

Electoral change was due in 2024, but the opposition is demanding it be brought forward, saying the rules benefit the ruling Georgian Dream party.

The recent protests follow unrest earlier in the year, as Georgians rallied against Russian influence in the country. Relations between Georgia and Russia have long been fractured over Tbilisi’s efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

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