Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has called the opposition party United National Movement (UNM) a criminal organisation, after videos of police abuse of detainees from the time when the UNM was in power were leaked. He went on to add that the UNM had no right to remain in politics and that aggression against the party was a natural response to the videos. “I am not encouraging violence, but on the other hand I have no right to ban the right of expression for the people,” he was quoted by civil.ge as saying.
In response, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said that "the statement made today by the head of the government added tension to an already difficult situation", and complained that they had "created the prerequisites of civil confrontation and violation of constitutional order".
The incumbent and the head of the government have not seen eye to eye this year on a number of issues, ranging from judicial reform, to the setup of a new banking sector regulatory body, and television station Rustavi 2 TV, the accounts of which were frozen as per a court order, ahead of a trial to settle ownership disputes with a previous shareholder. Margvelashvili was endorsed for presidency by the governing Georgian Dream-led coalition, but he is not a member of any party. The schisms between him and Garibashvili could exacerbate during the remainder of his five-year term, which began in November 2013, and negatively impact the passing of much-needed economic and political reforms.
During his October 22 televised speech, Margvelashvili added that he would be "launching consultations with political parties, non-governmental organisations and foreign diplomats in order to maintain civil stability, peace, and, what is more important, constitutional order in the country".
Reactions to his speech were prompt, as both Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze and Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli told journalists that the incumbent was not behaving like a president, that he was meddlesome and that his statements are adding to tensions.