- Title: GEORGIA: President Saakashvili calls for dialogue
- Date: 11th April 2009
- Summary: TBILISI, GEORGIA (APRIL 10, 2009) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) GEORGIAN PRESIDENT MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI SAYING: "The easiest thing is to drive wedges and make ultimatums. The easiest thing is to make ultimatums and to say I am not interested in your point of view." REPORTERS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) GEORGIAN PRESIDENT MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI SAYING: "But it is difficult to work together, cooperate, to forgive, listen and share opinions, and accept different opinions, even partially." REPORTERS SAAKASHVILI ADDRESSING MEDIA
- Embargoed: 26th April 2009 13:00
- Location: Georgia
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVANCQQVI4IXOYTIBZ1VPZHV6LV
- Story Text: Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili calls for dialogue with the opposition parties on the second day of a street campaign aimed at forcing him to resign.Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called on Friday (April 10) for dialogue with the opposition on the second day of a street campaign aimed at forcing his resignation.
"We have no alternative to dialogue and sharing responsibility, another alternative simply does not exist," Saakashvili told reporters a day after 60,000 Georgians took to the streets of the capital to demand he stand down.
He urged "unity across the political spectrum."
Protesters blocked the capital's main avenue through the night and into Friday, ahead of another rally outside the parliament.
Opposition leaders accuse the 41-year-old president of stifling reforms promised after the 2003 Rose Revolution that swept him to power. They are also bitter after he embroiled the country in a disastrous war with Russia last year.
Defeat in the five-day war, when Moscow crushed a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia, has emboldened critics who argue the 41-year-old president has made too many mistakes to remain in power until 2013.
"The easiest thing is to drive wedges and make ultimatums. The easiest thing is to make ultimatums and to say I am not interested in your point of view," Saakashvili said.
"But it is difficult to work together, cooperate, to forgive, listen and share opinions, and accept different opinions, even partially," he said.
The West is watching closely for a possible repeat of a crackdown in November 2007, when police firing teargas and rubber bullets dispersed mass demonstrations against Saakashvili.
But foreign diplomats question whether the opposition alliance can maintain unity and muster the numbers to force him out.
Analysts say Saakashvili's ruling United National Movement retains wide support, and the president's position appears strong despite the defection of several top allies and repeated cabinet reshuffles.
Many Georgians appear frustrated with the political bickering in Tbilisi and are sympathetic to government calls for stability as the global economic crisis takes hold.
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