( AP ) - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied Friday in the Georgian capital Tiblisi, accusing President Mikhail Saakashvili of leading the country away from democracy.
The rally is the latest protest against Saakashvili, a stalwart U.S. ally, who faces his worst political crisis since he was propelled to power in the 2003 uprising known as the Rose Revolution.
Opposition leaders said their main demand at Friday's rally would be the reversal of a decision to move back next year's parliamentary election by several months.
Political turmoil in the former Soviet nation was sparked by sensational allegations against Saakashvili by his former defense minister, Irakli Okruashvili, who was effectively sacked late last year.
Okruashvili, a hawkish, one-time Saakashvili supporter, was arrested but then freed on multimillion-dollar bail last month after he retracted allegations accusing Saakashvili of corruption and a murder plot.
The accusations and arrest set off large protest rallies in the capital of Georgia. The Interior Ministry said Thursday that Okruashvili flew to Germany on Wednesday for unspecified medical treatment.
Opposition leaders claimed that he was forcibly put on the flight so he could not lead the opposition protests.