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Rally Demands Shevardnadze’s Resignation
/ 8 Nov.'03 / 22:09
Giorgi Sepashvili, Civil Georgia

Controversial Elections Grow into the Civil Protest

Opposition launches a permanent
protest vigil in front of the Parliament

Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Parliament chant "Go, Resign" addressing President Eduard Shevardnadze.

Despite the rain thousands keep the protest vigil in front of the Parliament. The protests against the mass ballot fraud and manipulation of election results have culminated in the demands for President Shevardnadze to resign.

“There is only on way out of this standstill: Shevardnadze must resign,” Mikheil Saakashvili said late on November 8, while addressing the crowd of around 20 thousand protesters.

He said that the opposition demands the new parliamentary elections and resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze.

“We will stay here and continue the protest rally until our demands are met,” Saakashvili said.

He added thousands of people will arrive to Tbilisi from the various provinces of Georgia. However it is unclear whether these people will be able to pass through the numerous police checkpoints and barriers on the highways erected to prevent the number of protesters swelling. The officials claim, the police checkpoints are installed to prevent armed persons from inflitrating the capital.

One woman was injured this morning after the police fired the warning shots , when the crowd near Sagarejo, eastern Georgia, tried to break through the police barrier.

The Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili said that everything will be done “to prevent any destabilization attempts in the country.” No other official statement has been made by the authorities regarding the situation in the capital city.

The state-run media permanently reported today that the protest rallies are a precursor for “civil confrontation in Georgia” accusing the opposition in “destabilization attempts,” that may lead to the civil standoff similart to early 90s. In 1991 President Zviad Gamsakhurdia was ousted in the military coup that was preceded by the opposition protests.

Banner: Georgia without Shevardnadze
However, participants of the rally claim that fears over “civil confrontation” are groundless. “I do not understand why the government tries to frighten the population with destabilization. No civil confrontation is possible, as there is no confrontation in the society. What is happening now is the society versus the government. This is civil protest,” writer Davit Maghradze says.

“It is nonsense. I don’t feel any aggression among the participants of the rally, so there is no threat of civil confrontation. I am here because I want to be among the people,” famous Georgian actor Ramaz Chkhikvadze says.

The Central Election Commission, despite the observers' and the U.S. government concerns, still delays announcement of the final results of the November 2 parliamentary elections.

With about 90% of votes counted the Revival Union, led by head of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze and the President Shevardnadze’s election bloc For New Georgia lead the election results. The opposition National Movement is on the third place with 18,5%, followed by the Labor Party – 11,7% and the Burjanadze-Democrats – 7,6%.

However, it seems that the opposition has gone beyond the demands for defending the votes. The protesters call for the new elections.

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