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Saakashvili Offers 'Hand Of Friendship' To Opponents

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gestures during rally in central Tbilisi on April 19.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has offered a "hand of friendship" to rival Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanisvhili and his supporters.

Saakashvili was addressing thousands of supporters in the capital Tbilisi on April 19.

It was the first big rally since Saakashvili's party was swept from power by Ivanishvili's opposition movement in parliamentary elections las October.

A lawmaker from Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition reacted negatively to Saakashvili's offer, saying the Georgia leader and his team were part of the country's past.

Saakashvili is barred by term limits from seeking reelection this autumn and the president's powers have already been reduced, but his United National Movement wants to remain relevant.

Ivanishvili, a billionaire who made his fortune in Russia, fought off suggestions from Saakashvili during the parliamentary election campaign that he was a Kremlin stooge.

Based on Reuters and AFP reporting