Georgian Parliament backs Saakashvili against opposition
However, some government members had spoken to the press earlier and said that even if the parliament approved the state of emergency introduced by the President, it may yet be lifted before the 15-day limit.
Most suggested that it may be lifted by Monday.
Meanwhile, Georgian residents are complaining about the lack of sources of independent information. It's not clear whether the information blackout will end when the state of emergency is lifted.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has once again rejected claims that Russia is behind the unrest in Tbilisi.
“Speaking of the accusations that Russia is behind what is happening in Georgia. Ask any opposition leader, ask the Georgian people, they will laugh in the face of whoever makes such accusations.
We are not interfering in Georgian internal affairs. We are not dictating to Georgian politicians what, when or where they should do anything. We are not spending hours telling them how to act. These are not our methods,” he stressed.
Georgia's opposition parties say they will present a single presidential candidate after Mikhail Saakashvili announced there'll be an early vote on January 5.
He says he wants a fresh mandate from the Georgian people. Saakashvili added that there would be a parallel referendum to let the nation decide on the date of parliamentary elections.
Mikhail Saakashvili is considered to have made the right move in calling an early election
According to election procedure, Saakashvili will have to resign and hand over the presidency to Nino Burdzhanadze, with the presidential election to be held within 45 days.
As for the balloting procedure, Dmitry Babich, a political analyst from Russia Profile magazine, says it's uncertain what the process will be for electing the new Georgian President, as the rules have changed in each of the previous ballots.
Opinions in Georgia
Some Georgian opposition leaders have welcomed Saakashvili’s announcement about holding early presidential elections, calling it a victory.
Meanwhile, political analysts in Tbilisi say the decision to hold early presidential elections is a considered step aimed at outmanoeuvring the opposition. They believe it could win Saakashvili a second term as head of state.
Analysts believe that the opposition could win the election only if they agree on a single candidate to confront Saakashvili, but the experts are not sure that the President's opponents will have enough time to prepare.
Already some candidates have declared their intention to stand. Gia Maisashvili of the very recently-formed Party of the Future is one.
I wasn’t able to finish creating my party in Georgia, but I know a lot of people who were intending to join it. They’ll be ready to support the opposition candidate, and I will also support such a candidate. I don’t know how effective my work in Germany or France will be, but I’ll be trying to play a significant role to weaken President Saakashvili as it is not only in my interest, but also in interest of the nation.
He was Saakashvili's former economic adviser, but split with him shortly after he became President. His chances are seen as fairly unrealistic.
Also in the frame is David Gamkrelidze of the New Right Party, which is not a member of 10-party opposition coalition.
Together with Saakashvili and the single opposition candidate yet to be announced, this brings the current total of candidates to four.
As for the single opposition candidate, Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party would not be eligible as she is under the minimum age of 35 required to run for presidency.
Georgian rebel minister Irakly Okruashvili, who is currently in Germany, is also under the age of 35. Commenting on the current situation, he said he would try to play his part in the forthcoming events.
“I wasn’t able to finish creating my party in Georgia, but I know a lot of people who were intending to join it. They’ll be ready to support the opposition candidate, and I will also support such a candidate. I don’t know how effective my work in Germany or France will be, but I’ll be trying to play a significant role to weaken President Saakashvili as it is not only in my interest, but also in interest of the nation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Salome Zurabishvili, a former Foreign Minister and the leader of the Georgia's Way Party has not lived in Georgia for the required 15 years, so would also be ineligible.
This gives the leader of the Republican Party, David Usupashvili a chance, although he probably lacks the necessary high profile and charisma to run.
Another possible candidate is Levan Berdzenishvili, a Republican MP.
If no candidate gains 50% of votes in the first round, there will be another one two weeks later. If the turnout is less than 50% of those registered to vote, there will be a fresh election in two months.
Badri Patarkatsishvili is accused of trying to forcefully overthrow the government
So Georgia could well enter a long period of political instability resembling that in Ukraine.
According to RT's correspondent in Tbilisi, life seems to be basically back to normal, except for the media restrictions.
Georgia's Prosecutor General's Office has accused businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili of trying to forcefully overthrow the government.
“On November 7, Badri Patarkatsishvili was charged for a crime that falls under article 315 of the Criminal Code – conspiring to overthrow the government of Georgia. Badri Patarkatsishvili will be summoned and questioned regarding the case,” said Nika Gvaramia, Georgian Deputy Prosecutor General.
There is also unconfirmed reports that a warrant for his arrest has been issued and redirected to Interpol, the international police. The businessman is reportedly in London at the moment.
In another development, two opposition leaders have been accused of plotting a coup with Russian embassy staff. Legal proceedings have been launched against Labour Party leader, Shalva Natelashvili, and Konstantin Gamsakhurdiya of the Freedom Party. It's reported both men have fled the country.