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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 15:52 GMT
Rally against Georgia poll result
Protesters say the vote was rigged in Mr Saakashvili's favour

Thousands of opposition supporters have taken to the streets in Georgia in protest at what they say were rigged presidential elections last weekend.

Those gathered in the capital, Tbilisi, are demanding a second round of voting.

Pro-Western leader Mikhail Saakashvili polled 53%, narrowly averting a run-off against his nearest rival, Levan Gachechiladze, who won 25% of the vote.

Mr Saakashvili called the snap poll to resolve a crisis after suppressing anti-government rallies two months ago.

Civil unrest

A large crowd filled central Tbilisi's main square, stamping their feet against the cold and chanting slogans against Mikhail Saakashvili.

The opposition hopes to mount a show of strength aimed at overturning the election results.

Opposition protesters in Georgia 06/01/08

They allege that the polls were falsified to keep Mr Saakashvili - who is set to be inaugurated in a week's time - in power.

But most of the opposition's complaints about alleged violations have been rejected by the Georgian election commission and the courts.

The BBC's Neil Arun, who was at the rally, said much of the protesters' anger was directed at Western observers who have said the polls were essentially democratic, although there were significant problems.

The authorities have warned the demonstrators they will not tolerate any more civil unrest.

Mr Saakashvili, a US-educated lawyer, swept to power after street protests in 2003, dubbed the "Rose Revolution".

Thousands of protesters take to the streets

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