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Georgia: Opposition Calls For Another Mass Rally


Tbilisi, 23 November 2003 (RFE/RL) - Georgian opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili has called for supporters to turn out today for another massive protest, a day after antigovernment protestors stormed the parliament in Tbilisi. Saakashvili said on television that the people "must gather to defend" what has already been achieved.

Yesterday protestors demanding the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze took over the parliament and forced Shevardnadze to flee the building. The president then declared a state of emergency.

Another opposition leader, Nino Burdjanadze said today that compromise talks with the authorities are possible and she called again for new elections. She too called last night for continuing demonstrations.

"I urge the residents of Tbilisi and the population of Georgia to gather in front of the parliament building in large numbers. Because their large number and their active support is a guarantee that the government will not dare to undertake some steps against its people."

Defense Minister David Tevzadze said earlier that troops will not use force to solve the country's political crisis -- at least for now. But he warned the army is ready to prevent "chaos".

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is in Tbilisi to mediate. He met today with opposition leaders and then with Shevardnadze. The United States and United Nations have urged Shevardnadze to use restraint.
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