EU's Michel says he has brokered deal to end crisis in Georgia

FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Cagla Gurdogan/File Photo

(Reuters) - European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday he had brokered an agreement to end a political crisis in the South Caucasus country of Georgia.

"Agreement in Georgia...Congratulations to political leaders on signing the deal out of the current crisis," Michel, who chairs European Union summits, wrote on Twitter. He gave no details.

Georgian opposition supporters have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand the release of opposition politician Nika Melia and call for a new parliamentary election after a contested vote last year.

Police detained Melia, chairman of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, in February after storming its offices and clashing with his supporters. Melia had been accused of inciting violence at street protests in June 2019, a charge he has dismissed as politically motivated.

The case against Melia prompted Giorgi Gakharia to step down as prime minister on Feb. 18 and warn that the opposition politician's detention could exacerbate political rifts in the former Soviet republic of 3.7 million.

Georgian Dream won a parliamentary election last October, but the opposition said the vote was marred by violations and rejected its outcome.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Editing by Chris Reese and Timothy Heritage)

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