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Georgia: Thousands Rally In Tbilisi In Support Of President


Tbilisi, 18 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Some 8,000 Georgians today gathered in Tbilisi in support of President Eduard Shevardnadze (pictured). Organizers say participants in the pro-government rally are marching to parliament, where protests against Shevardnadze have centered since a controversial 2 November parliamentary election. Today's gathering was organized by Aslan Abashidze, president of the autonomous republic of Adjaria and head of the Democratic Revival Union party.

Authorities have not yet announced final election results, but the bloc supporting Shevardnadze is in the lead, followed by Abashidze's party.

Almost daily antigovernment protests have been led by Mikhail Saakashvili, whose National Movement-Democratic Front bloc is claiming victory in the poll and calling for Shevardnadze to resign.

Shevardnadze has said he will not resign and has called for dialogue with his opponents.
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