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Georgia's opposition vowed Monday to boost pressure on President Mikheil Saakashvili with round-the-clock protests outside his office as up to 20,000 rallied for a fifth day to demand his resignation.
"Unfortunately our large-scale protests have not been enough for the president to resign," Kakha Kukava, a leader of the opposition Conservative Party, told the crowd outside parliament.
"So we have taken a decision to move towards the presidency where a protest will continue on a round-the-clock
whistling and chanting "Misha, Go!."
They pledged to stay there until Saakashvili, commonly known as Misha, resigns over his record on democracy and last year's disastrous war with Russia.
Opposition leaders said they were shifting the focus of the campaign from the parliament to Saakashvili's office.
"That way he will hear our voices much more loudly," said Kakha Kukava, one of several opposition leaders taking part in the campaign.
Up to 20,000 people rallied outside the parliament.
Turnout had dipped over the weekend and there were signs that some opposition leaders were considering talks with the president.
Some 60,000 people rallied at the start of the campaign on Thursday, followed by 20,000 on Friday,
The warning comes days after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stridently vowed to rebuild and prepare his armed forces for missions other than peacekeeping — comments made alongside a top U.S. general.
"As for foreign assistance to Tbilisi to restore (Georgia's) military potential, it cannot be viewed otherwise than as encouragement of the aggressor," Nesteremko added.
"We expect that the United States, Ukraine and other nations considering themselves to be responsible international players will take this into account in their policy," he said.
Georgia has pledged to rebuild its military, estimating direct damage from the war in terms of destroyed bases and armour at $200 million.
Some 60,000 people rallied at the start of the campaign on Thursday, followed by 20,000 on Friday
The reason that the Georgians are protesting is because they feel that Saakashvili was weak during the war with Russia.
"This is not a revolution. It is another demonstration of the Georgian people's peaceful will to seek democracy," says Salome Zourabichvili, former foreign minister and leader of the Georgia's Way party.
A coalition of 13 Georgian political opposition parties will take to the streets of Tbilisi Thursday to stage open-ended demonstrations aimed at unseating President Mikheil Saakashvili, whom they accuse of betraying the promise of 2003's "Rose Revolution," building a personal dictatorship, causing mass impoverishment, and leading the country into a disastrous war with Russia last summer.
The primary reason why people are disillusioned with Saakashvili is because he didn’t deliver on the promises he made in 2004. He has not made major inroads in reducing poverty. He has done a certain amount to crack down on lower level corruption such as traffic cops shaking people down, demanding five dollars here and ten dollars there. But the perception among a lot of people is that just like his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, Saakashvili has turned a blind eye to corruption amongst his closest associates. One of the major scandals of the past couple of years was the murder of a young banker who got into an argument in a bar in Tbilisi with certain high placed members of the interior ministry. The unfortunate young man was found the next morning beaten up with his throat cut. In a normal democracy, if the interior ministry was implicated, the minister would have resigned. The minister happens to be one of Saakashvili’s closest cronies, and still occupies his post.
There are allegations that Saakashvili’s people were handing out financial inducements like wood and flour and food and heating materials to voters to win their support.
The OSCE assessment noted that “the implementation of social welfare programs is frequently combined with campaigning for this former president.”
When, besides to the die-hard 'Hannity-nation' people, did anyone actually see Georgia as the 'good guy' in the conflict with South Ossetia?