The opposition protests continue in Georgia
The opposition in Georgia continues to rally against the government of current President Mikheil Saakashvili for the fifth consecutive day. Thousands of Georgians have gathered in front of the Parliament in the capital of Tbilisi to demand Saakashvili’s resignation over his mishandling of the political and economic situation in Georgia. The numbers of protesters on the streets is dwindling however, arousing opposition’s concerns over the outcome of the protests.
The demonstrators gathered outside the parliament in Tbilisi, before marching on to the presidential palace, where they plan to hold an ongoing protest.
Correspondents say turnout is falling and the opposition seems increasingly unsure of how to continue its campaign.
Mr Saakashvili says Russian oligarchs are financing the Georgian opposition.
The opposition accuses him of mishandling last year's conflict with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, and of being increasingly autocratic.
After a brief pause on Sunday, more than 20,000 opposition supporters returned to the Georgian parliament building for a fifth day, chanting "Misha, Go!".
The BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi says the protesters' message has not changed - they still want Mr Saakashvili to resign - but with a diminishing turnout, the opposition seems increasingly unsure as to how to convince him or the rest of the country of its cause.
Critics accuse Saakashvili of monopolizing power and exerting pressure on the judiciary and media since coming to power on the back of the 2003 Rose Revolution promising to consolidate Georgian democracy.
Last year's war, when Russia crushed a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia, has emboldened opponents who say the 41-year-old leader has made too many mistakes to remain in power until 2013.
But analysts question whether the opposition can remain united or muster the numbers over a sustained period to force him out. Despite the defection of some senior allies and repeated cabinet reshuffles since the war, Saakashvili's position appears to remain strong.
The number of protesters dropped significantly from some 60,000 on Thursday to fewer than 4,000 over the weekend, but rose again on Monday as the opposition vowed a new wave of demonstrations.
Opposition leaders have sought to ratchet up pressure on Saakashvili through a campaign of "civil disobedience," including daily marches to the office of the president and state broadcaster that have paralysed traffic in the centre of the capital.