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Georgian top opposition leader arrested, party office raided

Williams Babalola
Georgian police on Tuesday arrested a top opposition leader days after Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, resigned distancing himself from plots to illegally arrest Nika Melia.
The police, while enforcing the arrest order, used tear gas in a violent raid on Melia’s party headquarters, further deepening a political crisis sparked by last year’s disputed parliamentary elections.
A footage from Live television footage showed the opposition leader being assaulted and dragged from his party headquarters for pre-trial detention.
Also, the hundreds of riot police used tear gas against several of his supporters and other opposition leaders across the party that came together for camping since Wednesday, the Mtavari TV live pictures showed.
Scores of opposition supporters were detained.
Reacting to the development, British ambassador, Mark Clayton wrote, “Shocked by the scenes at UNM headquarters this morning. Violence and chaos in Tbilisi are the last thing Georgia needs right now. I urge all sides to act with restraint, now and in the coming days.”
Georgia has been in the grip of a political crisis since last October’s parliamentary elections, which opposition parties have denounced as rigged.
Gakharia resigned on Thursday over ruling party Georgian Dream’s plans to arrest Melia.
News of the plan sparked outrage among the opposition and warnings from the ex-Soviet country’s Western allies.
In the wake of Mr Gakharia’s resignation, the opposition called for snap parliamentary polls.
Last week, the United States and the European Union called on Georgia’s government to resolve the crisis peacefully and to ensure its judicial system stays free of political bias.
Mr Melia has dismissed the charges laid against him of “organising mass violence” during anti-government protests in 2019 as politically motivated.

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