Saturday, November 8, 2008

Activists entreat Obama to bring change

Opposition activists called on US President-elect Barack
Obama to press for democratic reform in Georgia.

TBILISI, Georgia -- Opposition protesters demonstrated Friday against President Mikheil Saakashvili's government and urged President-elect Barack Obama to help bring political change to Georgia.

The protests were the first since Georgia lost a war with Russia in August and occurred on the first anniversary of a similar demonstration the government dispersed with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.

An estimated 10,000 demonstrators assembled outside the parliament building. Several thousand more joined a rally outside the presidential residence.

The numbers were about a fifth of those who turned out a year ago, highlighting the fractured nature of the opposition. Two opposition parties - the Christian Democrats and the Republican Party - did not participate, citing the need for postwar unity.

Those who did take part accused the Bush administration of ignoring election fixing and media suppression by the Georgian government. Several protest leaders said they hoped Mr. Obama would pressure Mr. Saakashvili into holding early elections next spring.

"In the name of the tens of thousands here, we want to congratulate the American people with the choice of Barack Obama," Conservative Party leader Kakha Kukava told the crowd outside the presidential residence. "It's a new hope for people all over the world,"

"We believe in Obama. We trust Obama," one poster declared in Georgian.

Read the rest at the Washington Times.

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