Thousands of protesters gathered in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Sunday, calling on the government to resign over its failure to secure European Union candidate status for the Caucasus country.
More than 35,000 people gathered outside the Georgian parliament, blocking traffic and waving European flags.
Several opposition parties and pro-EU organizations had called on citizens to pressure the ruling Georgian Dream party over the weekend.
Protests have also targeted the party’s founder, oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who holds no formal political office but apparently retains control over the government.
“We demand that Ivanishvili relinquish executive power and transfer it, in accordance with the Constitution, to a government of national unity,” organizers said in a Facebook post.
A new government must “carry out the reforms demanded by the EU, which will automatically give us candidate status for EU membership,” the post added.
Georgia had applied for candidate status alongside Ukraine and Moldova just days after the Russian invasion on February 24.
EU leaders said last month they were ‘ready to grant candidate status’ to Georgia, but only after major reforms were made to the judiciary, electoral system and freedom of the press.
“Georgia’s future is in the EU,” said European Council President Charles Michel.
The announcement was hailed as “historic” by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili.
“We are ready to work with determination over the next few months to achieve candidate status,” she wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili added that his government was “mobilized” to meet EU demands on time “so that we get candidate status as soon as possible”.