Accessibility links

Breaking News

Thousands Rally Against Government In Georgia

Georgian demonstrators in Tbilisi on November 4 (AFP) November 4, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of protesters rallied for a third straight day in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi today to press their demands for the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

On November 3, at least 10,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Georgian parliament, accusing Saakashvili of authoritarianism and leading Georgia away from democracy.

There were more than 50,000 the day before -- the biggest antigovernment demonstration since the Rose Revolution brought the pro-Western Saakashvili to power four years ago.

But in an interview with RFE/RL's Georgian Service on November 3 in Tbilisi, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, expressed optimism about the situation in Georgia.

"I'm confident that in Georgia you made tremendous progress in 20 years," Davis said. "So I'm very optimistic about Georgia and the situation. Of course, that does not mean that the people in front of the parliament should disperse and go home or anything like that. They are entitled to express their opinion."

Davis was attending a four-day international summit in Tbilisi, called "Building Europe's East," that ended today. He said that his report to the Council of Europe about the situation in Tbilisi will not be critical of democratic reforms in Georgia.

"When I go back to Starsbourg, to the Council of Europe, I should say: 'Yes, there's a very vigorous, a very robust, a very strong political debate in Georgia. But it's entirely natural. It's within the boundaries of political debate and argument. This, in Georgia, this is a democracy,'" Davis said.

During his visit, the secretary-general also met with both Georgian government officials and opposition leaders. He said he expects Georgia's presidential and parliamentary elections due next year to follow "good standards of democracy."