|Several thousand people gathered at the nine-party coalition rally in Tbilisi on January 6. Photo: InterPressNews|
The nine-party opposition coalition has warned that it would begin a series of permanent protest rallies from January 8 if the authorities continued their attempts to manipulate the election results.
Addressing several thousand supporters at a rally at Rike, an open area in downtown Tbilisi, politicians from the bloc claimed their presidential candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, had taken the lead in the January 5 polls and as a result a second round was inevitable.
“Yesterday’s election has put an end to the Saakashvili regime and he suffered a crushing defeat in Tbilisi,” Gia Tortladze, leader of Movement for United Georgia Party, said at the rally. “Not a single step back.”
“We have won despite pressure, despite intimidation, despite televised terror exerted against us,” Levan Gachechiladze said at the rally.
Earlier on January 6, Gachechiladze claimed victory in the polls. He said that not counting Tbilisi, Saakashvili had 44% and he had 34% of the vote. “In Tbilisi, however, I have gained an overwhelming victory, which gives me an overall nationwide lead,” Gachechiladze said.
Protesters dispersed peacefully after a couple of hours.