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4 Nov, 2007 14:56

Georgian President to break silence

The Georgian President Mikhal Saakashvili is due to speak publicly for the first time since massive protest rallies brought central Tbilisi to a standstill. Thousands of Georgians are demanding Saakashvili's resignation and early parliamentary elections.

The President is scheduled to release some sort of statement before 2200 Moscow time.

Saakashvili’s silence has incensed protesters since they begin demonstrating on Thursday evening.

Protestors say they want change as the government is unable to settle social and economic issues facing the country.

What sparked protests?

The rally is the second of its type in as many months. In September, 10,000 protestors took to the streets after former defence minister Irakly Okruashvili was arrested on corruption charges, after accusing president Saakashvili of a string of crimes.

Okruashvili eventually withdrew the accusations, before being released on bail.

The former minister left the country on Thursday and the Georgian government says he is receiving medical treatment abroad, though his supporters deny this.

“The government will have to fulfill the demands of its people and the opposition – and that is civilised democratic elections. I think the party of Saakashvili has had its day in the political life of Georgia,” stated Georgy Khaindrav, one of the Georgian opposition leaders.

Businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili has provided financial support for the opposition and has been using his television channel Imedi also.

The opposition, made up of 10 parties, appear to be united over the call for early elections, but traditionally they’ve been ideologically divided.