TBILISI, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – Protesters held a rally outside the Georgian president's residence in Tbilisi on Sunday to demand the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Several Georgian non-governmental organizations, including the Unanimity Union, gathered for the anti-Saakashvili protest calling for setting the date for the country’s early presidential elections.
Some 500 protesters attended the rally. Some media said up to 3,000 people participated in the event.
“We urge the president to meet our claim and respect the Constitution. Besides, we call on the parliament to meet our demands and set the date for the new presidential elections,” the protesters said.
More than one million Georgians, or about one quarter of the country's population, signed earlier this month a demand for the country’s president to resign.
Under the constitution, which sets the presidential term at five years, Saakashvili’s presidency is due to expire five years after his inauguration, on January 20. However, the country’s next presidential elections are slated for October 2013.
Protesters claim that the incumbent president has artificially extended his term until October 2013 by proposing changes in the country’s legislation, which were passed by the former parliament while it was still dominated by his United National Movement (UNM) party.
Saakashvili-led UNM was defeated by the Georgian Dream opposition coalition led by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili in the country's October 1 parliamentary elections.
Appointed Prime Minister, Ivanishvili and his new Cabinet launched a crackdown on former government officials claiming that Saakashvili and his party had ruined the country during nine years of their rule.
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