Authorities say Saakashvili won’t go away, despite demonstrators’ pleas

Authorities say Saakashvili won’t go away, despite demonstrators’ pleas

9 Apr, 05:22 PM

Demonstrators are chanting “Saakashvili go away” in front of the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi. Estimates of the attendance at the rally range widely, with numbers between 40,000 and 100,000 most often mentioned. The peaceful crowd is being addressed by Georgian opposition leaders.

Alliance for Georgia leader Irakly Aslania told those assembled that “At one time, the people expressed trust in [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili, and what has he done to unite the country, how has he lived up to that trust? Today, society is united in one goal – to change leadership.” Continuing in that vein, he stated, “Our goal is a genuinely united country. I want to appeal to our brothers the Abkhazians and Ossetians and tell them that today all of Georgia is extending its hand in friendship and all the problems between us can be settled through negotiations and the restoration of trust.”

Leader of the Democratic Movement United Georgia Nino Burjanadze, who largely formed her career around her alliance with Saakashvili, was met with a mixed reaction as she took the stage. “I understand those of you who are angry at me. I couldn’t protect those who expected help from me on November 7, 2007. I am not ashamed to ask forgiveness and I will be here with you to the end,” she assured the crowd. On November 7, 2007, police used violence to break up an opposition rally in Tbilisi.

There is no indication yet that the opposition efforts are having an effect. The Trend News agency quotes Georgian parliamentary majority leader Petre Tsiskarishvili as saying that “We are ready to conduct a dialogue with the opposition but not regarding the resignation of Saakashvili. We are not considering the issue regarding new parliamentary and presidential elections… The USA supports our country and its legitimate authorities.”

Western support for Saakashvili has not been universal, however. Amnesty International has regularly made critical observations of his government since it took office in 2004.

Tags: Georgia, Tbilisi, opposition, Mikheil Saakashvili

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