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14 Mar, 2009 11:55

Protest rallies in Georgia gain momentum

Opposition parties in Georgia have held a concert and a march against Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Critics of the president attended an open-air concert and marched through the streets of Tbilisi demanding his resignation from office.

A popular singer, whose brother is an opposition leader, performed in a cage symbolizing what Saakashvili's foes say is the prison he has created for the people of Georgia.

Some five thousand people attended Friday's concert, and many then went on to march down the capital's main avenue to the parliament building, shouting slogans.

Friday night's event was seen as a rehearsal for planned protests next month. The opposition is hoping to gather enough popular support to force Saakashvili to step down and call new elections. They anticipate 100,000 people will show up to protest.

President Mikhail Saakashvili has rejected opposition demands and said he will serve his term in office, which finishes in 2013.