Wed, May 27, 2009
World > Europe

Over 60,000 Georgians rally at Independence Day

2009-05-26 20:48:42 GMT2009-05-27 04:48:42 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Opposition supporters gather at the Holy Trinity cathedral in Tbilisi May 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Opposition supporters march in a street in Tbilisi, Georgia, May 26, 2009. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

MOSCOW, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Georgian protesters rallied on Tuesday in Georgian capital city of Tbilisi, demanding President Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation, according to reports reaching here.

Tuesday was Georgia's Independence Day. Russia's Interfax news agency said the number of protesters rallied at Boris Paichadze stadium reached 100,000, while the Georgian authorities put the figure at around 60,000.

"The whole of Georgian society demands immediate changes in the country. The president and the parliament should resign and early elections should be called," said one opposition leader David Berdzenishvili.

Some opposition leaders pledged "radical acts" such as blocking railroads and staging peaceful rally at railways and airports, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

"Today we will seal the railway, from today we will start the most radical acts," said Eka Beselia of the Movement for United Georgia.

The Georgian opposition also issued a statement on Tuesday, calling on the international community to help resolve the situation in the Caucasus country thus ending the stalemate following around six weeks of protests.

"We are calling on our Western friends to use all their available resources to stop an escalation in events in the country. The people should be given a chance to make a free choice and change the authorities through peaceful means," the RIA Novosti reported citing the statement.

According to the Georgian Kavkaz press, President Saakashvili gave lukewarm response to opposition's calling.

He visited a school in Tbilisi on Tuesday and made a concise speech, saying that people have rights to express opinions, and he still has hundreds of thousands of supporters since last January's presidential election.

However, because of the opposition rally, the traditional military parade was canceled by the authorities on Tuesday.

Georgia's leading opposition parties and groups started demonstrations in Tbilisi on April 9 urging Saakashvili to step down, over his failure to conduct democratic reforms as well as the brief yet catastrophic war with Russia in last August.

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