Several thousand anti-government protesters rallied outside the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi today and called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience to unseat President Mikheil Saakashvili.
“There are lots of across the country, almost 800,000 people, and we’ll make sure Saakashvili goes away,” Nino Burjanadze, a former speaker of parliament, said in an interview at the rally. Burjanadze, once a close ally of the president, declined to run for re-election in April 2008 and later entered the opposition.
The rally was organized by the Public Assembly, an opposition umbrella group that has accused Saakashvili of corruption and blamed him for Georgia’s defeat in a five-day war with Russia in August 2008 over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.
Since sweeping to power in the Rose Revolution in 2003, Saakashvili has faced challenges from former allies, who have called for his resignation. In November 2007, Saakashvili declared emergency rule for nine days after a week of demonstrations culminated in violent clashes between police and protesters.
Rusudan Bakuradze, 50, a seamstress, said she joined today’s rally because Saakashvili hasn’t created enough jobs during his tenure as president. “I work, but everyone around me is hungry and jobless,” she said.
Georgia’s unemployment rate stood at 16.5 percent for the year through October, Economy Minister Vera Kobalia said earlier this month.