Hundreds of supporters of Georgia’s jailed opposition leader rally outside his jail


Rustavi, Georgia, Feb 24 (AFP/APP): Hundreds of supporters of Georgia’s jailed opposition leader rallied Wednesday outside his jail as a political crisis in the Western-backed country showed few signs of abating.

Georgia has been in the grip of a crisis since parliamentary elections in October, which opposition parties slammed as rigged after the ruling party, Georgian Dream, claimed a narrow victory. This week’s arrest of Nika Melia — the leader of Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM) — further exacerbated the political crisis.

A motorcade with hundreds of Melia’s supporters arrived in the southeastern town of Rustavi where they staged a rally outside his jail to express solidarity with the imprisoned politician. “We are here to express solidarity with Nika,” Zaal Udumashvili, a UNM leader, told journalists. Gigi Ugulava of the European Georgia opposition party called Melia a “political prisoner.” “Protests will continue until all political prisoners are liberated and snap polls are called,” he added.

Opposition parties have said the parliamentary elections in October were fraudulent and have refused to enter new parliament and demanded fresh polls.

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