Opposition Protests Strain Georgia Politics

By Prensa Latina

T’bilisi : Hundreds of demonstrators in Georgia demanded a second round of presidential elections on Tuesday, challenging the official results that named current President Mijail Saakashvili the winner.

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Despite the winter snow and cold, for the second time in the last few days the opposition was able to concentrate thousands of supporters in front of the Public Television station on central Rustaveli Avenue.

Leaders of the National Council, which groups nine parties and movements, have insisted the January 5 election was fraudulent and call for a recount.

If the government does not hold a second round of the presidential elections, multitudinous protests will crowd the capital and other cities, warned Georgui Tsagareishvili, one of the leaders of the anti-establishment front, referring to a possible social upheaval in the country.

He asserted that over 50 percent of the population does not trust Saakashvili, who is trying to usurp power with fake elections.

Opposition activist Kaja Kukava’s opinion is in line with those assertions, saying the announced presidential inauguration will not take place, at least not in the capital, T’bilisi.

According to official data, Saakashvili won with 53.4 percent of the vote, followed by national council consensual candidate Levan Gachechiladze, with 25.67 percent.

Gachechiladze, aged 43, announced that the opposition will be out on the streets on January 20, in an action of civil disobedience against the president’s inauguration, scheduled for that day.

The protests will continue until the end of Saakashvili’s political career, and I do not think he will happily celebrate 25 years in power, because the country did not elect him, he said.