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13 Jan, 2008 16:21

Georgia's opposition back on streets

Tens of thousands of Georgians have hit the streets of the capital Tbilisi to protest against what they say was a “falsified” presidential election. Poll commissioners have declared Mikhail Saakashvilli the winner with 53% of the vote. Opposi

For the past week the opposition has challenged the election results in the courtroom, trying to prove that Mikhail Saakashvili received less than half of the total vote. A simple majority allows him to avoid a run-off against the leading opposition candidate.

Their appeals have been rejected.

Now, the protestors are hoping to put pressure on Saakashvili, but many believe it’s the reaction of the international community that holds the key.

The head of the Central Election Commission says that the opposition has not given convincing evidence of vote-rigging.

But this is unlikely to deter the opposition.

A series of rallies in November, which were brutally dispersed by the police, forced Mikhail Saakashvili to schedule the early election.

Hoping for a similar result, the opposition is planning more demonstrations outside key government buildings in the coming week.

Georgia's 'rebel minister' on hunger strike in France

Meanwhile, Georgian ex-defence minister Irakly Okruashvili has gone on hunger strike to protest against what he called a rigged presidential election. Okruashvili, who is currently in a French prison, has been refusing food for the last four days.

He was arrested last September in Georgia on corruption charges but was later released on bail.  He then left for Germany, allegedly for medical treatment.

There, he was seized in late November following requests by the Georgian Prosecutor's Office.

Okruashvili travelled to Paris from Germany earlier this month.  He's applying for asylum in France, the country that issued him his Schengen visa.