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United States, European Union Urge Georgian Lawmakers To End Crisis

Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement, who is accused of inciting violence at street protests in June 2019, attends a court hearing in Tbilisi on April 13.

The United States and the European Union have launched a joint appeal to lawmakers in Georgia, urging them to cooperate to end a protracted political crisis in the Caucasus country.

According to the statement published on April 18, European Council President Charles Michel is to soon propose an agreement which all lawmakers could sign as a move toward cooperation.

Georgia has been in the grip of a crisis since parliamentary elections in October, which the opposition said were rigged to keep the ruling Georgian Dream party in power.

Opposition parties have refused to enter the newly elected parliament and have demanded fresh elections.

The crisis deepened further in February with the arrest and trial of Nika Melia, the leader of the main opposition grouping on accusations of fomenting violence during 2019 anti-government protests.

Melia's arrest came days after Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned following a disagreement over whether to take the prominent politician into custody.

Gakharia had said that Melia's arrest was unacceptable if it threatened to fuel political divisions in the country of 3.7 million people.

Two rounds of EU-mediated talks in March between the government and the opposition aimed at de-escalating the postelection tensions have failed to produce any breakthrough.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa