In western countries, direct democracy ordinarily works like this: The people elect a leader. That person is either re-elected or not at the end of a term. . . .Thailand is not the only country where large groups of protesters are demanding the ouster of a national leader. Protests also erupted this past week in Tbilisi where thousands demanded the resignation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. At our other website, THERELIVE.COM, we are tracking on-the-scene reports from citizen journalists in Georgia.
Georgia, on the other hand, has had three presidents since independence in 1991, none of whom ever completed their elected terms. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was ousted in a coup d'etat in 1991; Eduard Shevardnadze ousted in the Rose Revolution in 2003; and Misha Saakashvili stepped down in 2007 and called for early elections after global condemnation for his decision to use brutal force against protesters compelled him to. He was controversially re-elected in January 2008 with 52% of the vote.- Paul Rimple, Georgia's iron lady Nino Burjanadze, Tbilisi Blues
In order to put recent reports out of Georgia in some kind of context, I jotted the following timeline of events occurring so far in April in Tbilisi:
- Mid March-April 1 - opposition plasters Tbilisi with signs.
- April 4 - Saakashvili had planned to open Mtatsminda Park, hailed as "Tbilisi's Disneyland." Some kids wrote the word "disgrace" at the entrance into the park. "Several dozen police attacked the group immediately, beating the young men, sprayed paint in the faces of others and confiscated their cars." Saakashvili canceled his visit to the openning.
- April 8 - Big protest planned for 9th: "organizers estimate that around 100,000 people will turn out and say they will camp out until their demands are met. . . [protest] scheduled for Thursday afternoon in front of the parliament building in central Tbilisi. The leading opposition party in Parliament, the Christian Democrats, won't take part."
- April 9 - 60,000 anti-government protesters gather.
- April 10 - deadline set by protesters for Saakashvili's resignation. More protests.
- April 11 - 3rd day of protests, numbers decline. There is a late-night attack on protest site blamed on government (described by Georgia bloggers here , here, and here; Reuters here). Outraged, the opposition changes plan to call off Sunday protest.
- April 12 - Government issues statement claiming "No police or other municipal or Government personnel were involved in any way in the incident" The protests -- which went ahead -- were described as "small."
- April 13 - "Opposition leaders asked citizens of Georgia to gather in front of the Parliament Monday at 3 p.m., April 13. They plan to announce their future acting plans."
Caucasus protest timeline by Mapreport (interesting resource)
Georgia after Communism timeline by CIPDD (events up until 2006)
Georgia-Russia Conflict Timeline by RUSI (especially good for 2008 events).
Georgia Russia conflict timeline by Jotman (goes way back)