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Saakashvili meets opposition for talks on political crisis

Latest update : 2009-05-11

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (pictured) met with opposition leaders Monday for talks on resolving a month-long political crisis. Tens of thousands demonstrated on Saturday to mark a month of protests calling for his resignation.

AFP - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili will meet with opposition leaders on Monday for talks on resolving a month-long political stand-off, the government and opposition officials said.
   
The presidency said in a statement that Saakashvili will meet with opposition leaders at 2:00 pm (1000 GMT) Monday.
   
"Mikheil Saakashvili expresses his hope that the Georgian government together with all political forces will be able to jointly overcome the problems that exist in the country," the statement said.
   
Opposition representative Tinatin Khidasheli confirmed the meeting would take place and said "four leaders from our side will meet with Saakashvili."
   
The four are former presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze, former envoy to the UN Irakli Alasania, former foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili and National Forum party leader Kakha Shartava, she told Imedi television.
   
The agreement for talks comes after more than a month of opposition protests calling for Saakashvili's resignation. About 20,000 opposition supporters rallied in central Tbilisi on Saturday to mark the one-month anniversary of the start of protests on April 9.
   
Opposition leaders offered talks with the government last week after riot police clashed with protesters in the first major outbreak of violence since the protests began. At a meeting with parliament speaker David Bakradze on Friday they demanded face-to-face talks with Saakashvili.
   
The clashes and a brief bloodless military mutiny last week raised fears of instability in Georgia, a former Soviet republic which is currently hosting controversial NATO military exercises that have infuriated neighbouring Russia.
   
The opposition accuses Saakashvili of mishandling last year's war with Russia and of becoming increasingly autocratic since coming to power in the peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution.
   
 

Date created : 2009-05-11

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