Tbilisi Expects Council Of Europe Mission To Look Into Opposition Head's Sentence In March

Tbilisi Expects Council of Europe Mission to Look Into Opposition Head's Sentence in March

TBILISI (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 14th February, 2020) The mission of the Council of Europe is set to arrive in Tbilisi in March to investigate the case of the prominent opposition figure, Gigi Ugulava, the executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, said on Thursday.

On Monday, the Georgian Supreme Court sentenced Ugulava, the ex-Tbilisi mayor and the secretary-general of the European Georgia political party, to three years and two months in prison over embezzlement charges. The court's ruling sparked a strong backlash and disrupted dialogue between the government and the opposition on an electoral system reform.

"The [Council of Europe's] delegation is expected to arrive in March," Kobakhidze told reporters, expressing confidence that the mission would be convinced of the opposition figure's guilt.

On Wednesday, the European Union, London and Washington expressed disappointment over Ugulava's conviction via their respective embassies in Tbilisi.

In addition, EU spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano noted the court's verdict harmed "the political dialogue aimed at a much needed depolarisation" of the situation in Georgia.

Georgia has been suffering from protests since June with the opposition and their supporters calling for changes in the electoral system. After the Georgian parliament failed to satisfy the Primary demand of protesters to switch to a proportional electoral system in November, the opposition parties decided to unite and start fresh rallies. The government and the opposition have been attempting to negotiate, but European Party leader David Bakradze announced on Tuesday the suspension of the dialogue due to Ugulava's sentence.

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