Georgia protesters again press president to resign

Tbilisi, Georgia – About 20,000 demonstrators Friday kept up the pressure on Georgia’s president to resign, with some pelting his residence with cabbages and carrots on a second day of protests.

President Mikheil Saakashvili rejected their demands and called for talks.

The crowd was smaller than on Thursday, a national holiday, when three times as many demonstrators jammed the capital’s main avenue, but the protests showed no sign of ending.

The most bitter criticism is directed at the president’s handling of the brief war with Russia last summer.

The Georgian army was humiliated and the country lost territory as separatists and their Russian allies took full control of two breakaway Georgian regions.

Saakashvili, whose five-year term runs until 2013, told foreign reporters that he would not resign.

“It’s obvious the answer to this question is no,” he said in English. “It has always been no, because that’s how it is under the constitution.”

Saakashvili repeated his call for dialogue with the opposition.

At first he was again rebuffed, but opposition leaders later told the crowd that they would agree to talks as long as they were televised live. Some in the crowd jeered.

Even so, that appeared to be a breakthrough. The president’s administration said it had no immediate comment.

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