Opposition prepares for Georgia-wide hunger strikes Friday

February 18th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Tbilisi, Feb 18 (RIA Novosti) The Georgian opposition has begun preparations for hunger strikes due to start Friday simultaneously across the former soviet republic, including the capital to demand electoral reforms. “We have started preparations for the hunger strikes scheduled for Feb 22,” said the People’s Party leader Koba Davitashvili.

Besides electoral reforms, the opposition is demanding press freedom and the release of more than 40 ‘political prisoners’ ahead of parliamentary polls in May.

The opposition leaders also called on their supporters to raise money for rallies set to accompany the hunger strikes.

“We need not only participants, but also financial assistance,” Davitashvili said.

Last Friday, tens of thousands of opposition supporters blocked traffic on Rustaveli Avenue, the site of mass anti-government protests last November which led to early presidential polls in the South Caucasus state in January. No clashes were reported.

Protesters have also demanded a recount of the results of the Jan 5 polls which returned President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Western monitors said Georgia’s elections were generally fair, although they admitted there had been a number of violations.

The US-educated Saakashvili has moved to integrate the country into the European Union and NATO since he came to power in 2004, but has been recently criticized for authoritarianism, corruption and economic failures.

His brutal crackdown on protesters in early November triggered public anger and criticism from Georgia’s Western allies.
RIA Novosti

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