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Zugdidi Protesters Demand President Saakashvili's Resignation

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
ZUGDIDI, Georgia -- Hundreds of demonstrators in Georgia's western city of Zugdidi have demanded the immediate resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

At a rally on January 17, the protesters staged a mock burial of Saakashvili, saying the two-term president is "politically dead."

The protesters insisted that Saakashvili's term is due to expire on January 21 because the constitution limits presidential terms to five years.

Saakashvili won his second term in an early election in January 2008.

When Saakashvili's party enjoyed a parliamentary majority last year, lawmakers passed constitutional amendments saying an outgoing president must stay in office until a successor is elected.

Georgia's next presidential election is scheduled for October.

Last week, anti-Saakashvili groups announced in Tbilisi that they had collected more than 1 million signatures on a petition calling for Saakashvili's resignation.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition won the October elections, suggested immediately afterward that Saakashvili should step down early.

Then in early November, Ivanishvili suggested Saakashvili should vacate the presidential palace because of the expense to taxpayers to maintain it.

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