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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March 2008, 15:52 GMT
Georgia protest blocks parliament
Opposition protest in Tbilisi, Georgia - 24/03/2008
The opposition says it will not disperse until its demands are met
Opposition supporters in Georgia are blockading the main street of the capital, Tbilisi, outside parliament.

Around 50 protesters and MPs have been on hunger strike in a tent camp outside parliament for more than two weeks.

They are demanding changes to Georgia's electoral rules which they allege are biased towards the government party, ahead of parliamentary polls in May.

They also want a re-run of January's presidential vote, which saw Mikhail Saakashvili re-elected.

Regular demonstrations

There were emotional scenes outside the parliament as one of the MPs on hunger strike was taken to hospital, says the BBC's Matthew Collin in Tbilisi.

The opposition parties have been holding regular demonstrations since the presidential elections in January. The opposition claims they were falsified to give victory to the pro-Western Mr Saakashvili.

They are also calling for the re-opening of the Imedi opposition television station that has been off-air since December.

Mikhail Saakashvili speaking at the opening of a new military base 18.01.08
Mr Saakashvili's next challenge is parliamentary elections
It suspended broadcasts in late December following a mass resignation of journalists over a row between the station's owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, and the government.

Georgian authorities accused the media tycoon of using Imedi to incite anti-government demonstrations in November.

Mr Patarkatsishvili died suddenly in February in the UK where he went to avoid arrest on charges of plotting to overthrow the Georgian government. British police say they have found no evidence of foul play.

Under Georgian law, Imedi television could lose its licence if it does not resume broadcasting by Wednesday's three-month deadline.

'Angry mood'

Opposition activists are now attempting to increase the pressure on the authorities, says our correspondent.

After thousands of protesters rallied on Monday, some remained on the streets overnight and set up barricades.

One opposition leader, Kakha Kukava, said they would not disperse until their demands were met.

"We do not have any response from the government," he said.

"They will not consider any compromise with the opposition."

The Georgian authorities sent in riot police to break up mass demonstrations last November and briefly imposed a state of emergency.

Since then the opposition has been allowed to hold its rallies without interference.

But the authorities have also refused to change the electoral law, says our correspondent, and the mood among the protesters is becoming increasingly angry.



SEE ALSO
Thousands mourn Georgian tycoon
28 Feb 08 |  Europe
Q&A: Georgian election
06 Jan 08 |  Europe
Profile: Mikhail Saakashvili
06 Jan 08 |  Europe



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