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Protest held in Georgia to demand president's exit

People attend a rally to demand the resignation of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili near the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi January 20, 2013. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

TBILISI: More than 1,000 people began protesting on Sunday outside of the Georgian president's residence in Tbilisi, demanding that he immediately resign and hand over executive power to the speaker of parliament.

Presidential elections are due to take place in October, but critics say that this schedule gives President Mikhail Saakashvili, elected to a second five-year term in January 2008, an undue sixth year in office.

Saakashvili's party, the National Movement, was relegated to the parliamentary minority in lackluster results in October 2012 elections, and the president's popularity has been waning in the polls.

The protest follows a petition that similarly calls for Saakashvili's exit. According to the opposition groups and NGOs that helped circulate the petition, it gathered more than 1 million signatures in a country of 4.6 million.

 

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