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Opposition parties in Georgia sign deal to end political crisis

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By Euronews with AP, AFP
The deal aims to end a months-long political crisi since October's parliamentary elections.
The deal aims to end a months-long political crisi since October's parliamentary elections.   -   Copyright  GEORGIA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP
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Georgia is edging closer to ending a months-long political crisis after several opposition parties signed a deal to enter parliament.

It was originally sparked by a parliamentary election last October.

Georgian Dream was declared the winner, but the leading opposition party, United National Movement (UNM), claimed that the vote was rigged and has refused to concede defeat.

The deal on Monday will see several opposition parties enter the parliament they had been boycotting since the election took place.

"This is a very important day, this is the beginning of a new peaceful political history of Georgia, a big step towards depolarisation," said Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili.

The agreement offers key reforms of the Central Election Commission and the country's prosecutor's office.

The deal also stipulates that new parliamentary elections will be held in 2022 if the ruling Georgian Dream party fails to receive at least 43% of the votes in this year's municipal elections.

European Council President Charles Michel has described the agreement as "a truly European way of resolving the crisis".

"This agreement is the starting point for the consolidation of Georgian democracy and for Georgia's Euro-Atlantic future," he added.

The United States has also welcomed the agreement "aimed at ending the political crisis in Georgia".

The UNM has initially refrained from signing the document proposed by Michel.

But the party added that it would decide to sign when the European Commission President visits Georgia on Tuesday and if their chairman, Nika Melia, is released from detention.

Melia was taken into custody in February for breaking parole terms and is facing charges of inciting violence during protests that erupted in 2019. The EU-brokered deal has implied that Melia will be released as part of the agreement.

The UNM has also reiterated its intention to hold an anti-government demonstration on May 15.

Michel said he would also discuss measures to strengthen ties between the Caucasian EU candidate country and Brussels on Tuesday.