The political situation in Georgia has been tense since the autumn parliamentary elections.
Protesters set up tents in front of the Georgian parliament building and blocked the capital’s main avenue on Tuesday to oppose the arrest of the leader of the country’s main opposition party.
The protest came hours after police stormed the headquarters of the United National Movement and arrested its president, lawmaker Nika Melia.
Georgian media reported that around 20 other people were also arrested at the party headquarters.
The political situation in Georgia has been tense since the autumn parliamentary elections. The opposition calls for a resumption of the vote.
Before the police raid, parliamentarians on Tuesday appointed a new prime minister, replacing the one who opposed the arrest of Mr. Melia, fearing that it would worsen the country’s political crisis.
Mr Melia faces charges of incitement to violence during the 2019 protests. He was out on bail.
The new prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, said the arrest of the politician was justified.
“We are building a democratic state, and everyone in the country, whatever their tastes and political opinions, must obey the law,” he said.
The US Embassy expressed its disapproval, saying in a statement: “Today Georgia has stepped back on its path to becoming a stronger democracy in the family of Euro-Atlantic nations.
“We regret that the call by the United States and other international partners for restraint and dialogue has been ignored,” the embassy statement read.
The European Union called for calm.
“We urge all parties in Georgia to exercise the necessary restraint, restraint and responsibility, to avoid further escalation in the interest of the country and its people,” the spokesperson for Georgia said. the European Commission, Peter Stano.
In the October election, the Georgian Dream Party, which has ruled Georgia for the past eight years, won the largest share of the vote with 48%. But opposition parties refused to acknowledge the results, saying the tally had been manipulated.
Georgian Dream was created by a wealthy Russian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, but his popularity has steadily declined amid the country’s economic woes.
Georgian Dream and United National Movement are both pro-Western, with the aim of building better relations and eventual membership in NATO and the European Union.