Accessibility links

Breaking News

No Opposition As Police Remove Roadblock In Tblisi

Opposition protesters used cages in their demonstrations
TBILISI (Reuters) -- Police cleared a roadblock and opened up the Georgian capital's central avenue to traffic on July 24 with no resistance from protesters after a months-long street campaign to oust President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Some barricades had been removed on July 23 ahead of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit this week.

Cages symbolising prison cells had blocked the road in front of parliament since April during protests against Saakashvili over his record on democracy and last year's war with Russia.

But demonstrations fizzled out weeks ago.

"The cells played their part," said one of the protest leaders, Zviad Dzidziguri. There was no announcement that the campaign was officially over, or what might come next.

Opponents say Saakashvili, in his strongly personal style of government, has monopolised power, stifled the media and compromised the judiciary.

Analysts have always doubted the disparate opposition alliance had the strength to oust him, and criticised its focus on the man rather than the system.

The opposition has not withdrawn its demand for Saakashvili to quit, and diplomats warn he could face more street protests if he does not address the criticism, particularly as the economic downturn persists.

In a carefully calibrated speech to parliament on July 23, Biden balanced a pledge of U.S. support for Georgia with a call for the country to improve its democracy.

"Your Rose Revolution will only be complete when government is transparent, accountable and fully participatory" he said, referring to the uprising which brought Saakashvili to power.