Georgian opposition parties sign deal to end crisis

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia edged closer to ending a months-long political crisis after several opposition parties signed a deal Monday that was brokered by the European Union.

However, the biggest opposition force, the United National Movement, refrained from signing the document proposed by European Council President Charles Michel. It said it would decide whether to sign when Michel visits the ex-Soviet nation Tuesday.

The political situation in Georgia has been tense since the Oct. 31 parliamentary elections. The governing Georgian Dream party won the vote, but the United National Movement charged that the vote was rigged and refused to concede defeat, demanding a rerun.

By signing the document Monday, several opposition parties agreed to enter parliament, which they have been boycotting since the elections.

The agreement offers reforms of the Central Election Commission and the prosecutor’s office. It also envisages that if the Georgian Dream party fails to receive at least 43% of the votes in this year’s municipal elections, it will agree to hold new parliamentary elections.

The document also implies the release of Nika Melia, the chairman of the United National Movement, who was put in custody in February for breaking parole terms. Melia faces charges of inciting violence during protests that erupted in 2019.