TBILISI -- Lawmakers of Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party have started the new parliamentary session amid a boycott by opposition members who insist that October 31 parliamentary elections were rigged.
President Salome Zurabishvili opened the first sitting of the new parliament on December 11 by calling on all Georgian political forces and society as a whole to end the climate of confrontation "as the country needs depolarization, solidarity, and unity."
"We are tired of endless cursing, insults, and the neglect of Georgian and Caucasian manners! Hatred is leaving the country fragmented, vulnerable, and weak at a time when it most needs to mobilize its national energy to meet the challenges," Zurabishvili said, addressing the absent representatives of opposition parties.
"The public's patience has run out.... It has been almost 30 years since independence was restored and the Soviet empire ended, and we are building a state. Thirty years is the age of maturity -- for both the person and the state. It is time to break the vicious circle and move on," she added.
Representatives from the opposition parties, meanwhile, gathered in the building of the Student Youth Palace near parliament, where they signed a joint memorandum to confirm their decision to give up their parliamentary mandates in protest and demand that electoral officials cancel the election results.
The Central Election Commission has announced final results showing that Georgian Dream, founded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, captured 48.22 percent of the vote. The opposition United National Movement bloc had 27.18 percent and European Georgia was third with 3.79 percent.
Six other smaller opposition parties also crossed the 1 percent threshold to enter parliament.
The opposition parties have insisted that the elections were rigged and demand that new polls be held in 2021.
Four rounds of U.S.- and EU-brokered talks between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties to find a compromise on the issue have failed to yield any results so far.
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan was present among other guests invited to the parliamentary session on December 11.