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Georgia: Opposition Protest Fizzles Out

Tbilisi, 5 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A massive protest against the 2 November election results called for by Georgian opposition groups drew less people than expected today and appeared to be fading out without having made any impact. Georgian opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili yesterday called on Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to step down from office by midday today and further called for a massive demonstration against the results of last Sunday's (2 November) parliamentary elections.

The results announced today with more than 60 percent of the vote counted showed the pro-government For A New Georgia bloc led with 25.4 percent, Saakashvili's National Movement bloc was second with 24.4 percent, and the Labor Party was third with 15 percent.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that representatives from Georgian opposition groups met in front of the Philharmonic Hall in Tbilisi instead of the government building as earlier planned. The news agency said the opposition meeting ended peacefully.

Extra police and Interior Ministry troops were deployed in Tbilisi around vital facilities and government buildings to maintain order.