Georgia PM resigns over move to arrest opposition leader

Tbilisi, Feb 18 (AFP/APP):Georgia’s prime minister resigned Thursday over plans to arrest a top opposition leader, deepening a political crisis that has gripped the Caucasus nation since elections last year.

Giorgi Gakharia, a 45-year-old with the ruling Georgian Dream party who was prime minister since 2019, said he was stepping down because of disagreement in the government over enforcing a court order to arrest Nika Melia.

The move to detain Melia — the chairman of the United National Movement of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili — sparked outrage in the opposition and warnings from Georgia’s Western allies.

With opposition party leaders gathered at the UNM headquarters in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi and television reports showing riot police mobilising nearby, Gakharia said he could not enforce the court order and would resign.

“It is inadmissible to enforce a judiciary decision… if that poses a risk to the health and lives of our citizens or creates the possibility of a political escalation in the country,” he said.

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