Georgian opposition call for 3rd day of protests

Georgian opposition leader and former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze called Sunday on supporters to remain in front of the state television building overnight for a third day of anti-government protests on Monday.

Burjanadze promised the activists of the National Assembly opposition group, who want President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign, that supporters of the Georgian Party and Free Georgia would join the protest on Monday.

An estimated 5,000 people came to the first day of protests on Saturday, but on Sunday only 1,000-2,000 turned out.

Burjanadze told the crowd that it was not enough “for the plans of the National Assembly,” but blamed the low attendance on the authorities, who she said were preventing opposition supporters from coming to the capital from the regions.

Saakashvili was elected in a landslide in 2004 after the Rose Revolution, but his popularity has waned since a series of scandals in 2007 and the disastrous 2008 war with Russia over two breakaway Georgian regions that Moscow now recognizes as independent.

However, he faced down weeks of street protests in 2009 and vows he will stay in office until his second term ends in 2013.

The chairman of the National Assembly told protesters that their presence in the streets was an irritant to the government.

“We are waiting for the arrival of our supporters. We are all here and will never go away,” Nona Gaprindashvili said.

The Georgian Party has said it will hold a rally on Wednesday, the day before Georgia celebrates the 20th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union.

TBILISI, May 22 (RIA Novosti)

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