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Thousands rally in Georgia protests
Protesters press for another meeting with the president after a month of protests demanding his ouster.
Last Modified: 10 May 2009 00:54 GMT
The rally marked 30 days since Georgia's opposition launched a campaign to ouster Saakashvili [AFP]

At least 20,000 opposition supporters have rallied in Tbilisi to call for the resignation of Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's president.

The protest on Saturday came after the government and opposition leaders failed on Friday to make any progress in resolving the political stand-off during their first talks since protests began 30 days ago.

The demonstrators gathered outside the parliament building, chanting "Misha Go!".

They accuse Saakashvili of mishandling last year's war with Russia and of becoming increasingly autocratic since coming to power after the Rose Revolution in 2003.

Salome Zurabishvili, an opposition leader, said: "The whole nation is standing here … so that the self-proclaimed president recognises that there is a crisis in this country, that there is a very serious crisis."

Dialogue urged

The protesters pressed for another meeting with Saakashvili after a month of demonstrations demanding his ouster.

Nino Burjanadze, an opposition leader, told journalists: "If we do not receive a response today and this meeting does not happen in the nearest day or two it simply means that the president does not really want dialogue."

While opposition leaders insist on Saakashvili to resign, they say they are still ready to listen to any ideas the president has for bringing the country together.

Though tensions have increased in recent days, officials have vowed there would be no repeat of November 2007 events when riot police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of protesters.

The number of protesters has steadily dwindled since a peak of some 60,000 during the first days of demonstrations but the latest rally attracted the largest numbers in recent days.

Source:
Agencies
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