Georgian police fireplace water cannons at protesters who declare polls have been tampered with

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© Reuters. Opposition supporters protest against the results of a general election

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From Margarita Antidze

TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgian police fired water cannons and tear gas at hundreds of protesters outside the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) on Sunday in support of a call by opposition parties to rerun the October 31 parliamentary elections they say they have been manipulated.

Small groups of protesters threw stones at the police. The protesters had moved from the capital’s main street, Rustaveli, to the CEC building, where thousands of people were holding a peaceful rally.

Police said protesters tried to storm the KEK building.

“Because the demonstrators used violent methods and did not follow the instructions of the police, the Ministry of the Interior used proportional violence within the limits of its powers,” the ministry said in a statement.

The opposition calls for the resignation of the CEC chief Tamar Zhvania and the calling of new elections.

According to official results, the ruling Georgian Dream Party received 48.23% of the vote, while the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), received 27.18%.

After the outcome gave the ruling party the right to form a government, eight opposition parties, including the UNM, said they would boycott parliament.

The opposition accuses the ruling party and its supporters of buying votes, threatening voters and observers, and violating the counting process. The leaders of the Georgian Dream have denied the allegations.

The protesters moved to the KEK building after the 8 p.m. deadline to dismiss the head of the electoral commission and start talks on a new vote, which was passed without a response from the government.

The economy of the South Caucasian country was hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. The government said Saturday it would put an overnight curfew in major cities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Monday, as the number of cases has risen sharply since early September.

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