Thousands of Georgians have staged a mass protest over the results of the country’s presidential runoff vote, alleging widespread electoral fraud and demanding snap parliamentary elections. About 25,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in the capital, Tbilisi, on Sunday, days after the former Soviet nation elected its first woman president, Salome Zurabishvili. An independent candidate backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, Zurabishvili claimed almost 60 percent of the vote to beat the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze on Wednesday. But opposition leaders including Vashadze have refused to accept the result, pointing to instances of alleged vote-buying, voter intimidation and ballot-stuffing in the election’s second round.
Holding Georgian and EU flags, protesters packed Rustaveli Avenue in front of the parliament building in the centre of the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Sunday.
The former reformist president Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the huge crowd by video link from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, where he lives in self-imposed exile.