Georgia protests enter third day
Thousands of people have rallied in the streets of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, for a third day of protests aimed at pressuring President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign.
A coalition of opposition parties led the demonstration on Saturday in front of parliament, continuing what they call a "national disobedience campaign".
The protests came a day after more than 25,000 people had gathered at the same location.
"We have come to a joint conclusion to show the government in a peaceful way that we are not just a small group of Tbilisi residents who want changes, that the whole of Georgia is with us," Irakly Alasania, an opposition leader, said.
"Today we have realised that if we ourselves do not take back control of our country, do not return our statehood, then we will have to face this problem for many years to come."
Saakashvili has rejected the calls to resign and has offered to hold talks with the opposition.
"There is poverty in the country which has been aggravated by the war and the economic crisis and our citizens are angry today because of these problems. I am angry too," he said on Friday.
Koba Davitashvili, an opposition leader from the People's Party, said on Saturday that protesters would not waver in their calls for the president to leave office.
"There will be no dialogue with Saakashvili. Dialogue is possible on only one issue: his resignation."
Giorgi Kandelaki, a member of Georgia's parliament, told Al Jazeera that while Saakashvili would not step down, there was a need to address issues raised by the opposition.
"This protest once more shows that the government should redouble its effort to broaden political dialogue, which is ongoing with the opposition," Kandelaki said.
Protests began on Thursday, when at least 60,000 people gathered outside parliament, waving flags and chanting "resign".
Opposition leaders, angry at Saakashvili's handling of last year's Russia-Georgia war and accusing him of failing to deliver promised democratic reforms, have said they will carry on protesting until he resigns.
David Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights party, said: "If [Saakashvili] does not accept our demands, we will intensify pressure and the protests will be sharper, not only outside parliament but in other places as well, for example outside the presidency."
Matthew Collin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tbilisi, said the protesters marched on Saakashvili's official residence on Saturday as well as a television station that they accuse of broadcasting pro-government propaganda.
But the government has ordered police not to arrest or touch the protesters unless the crowds try to storm government buildings, because Georgia wants "to be seen as a European-style democracy", Collin said.
"However, in what seems to be good news for the president, and his claim that Georgia is moving forward democratically, the number [of protesters] significantly dropped" on Saturday, he said.
Opposition to Saakashvili has been growing since the Russia-Georgia war, in which Georgia was defeated.
The conflict has emboldened opponents who argue that Saakashvili has made too many mistakes to remain in power until 2013.
Critics have also accused him of betraying the democratic reforms promised in the 2003 Rose Revolution, in which he came to power.