The President of Georgia says he’s calling an early election on January 5th to seek a fresh mandate for his government, which swept to power in the “Rose Revolution” four years ago. With lorryloads of troops in Tblissi to counter violence from political protestors who call him a dictator, Mikhail Saakashvili confirmed he would be standing for re-election. “I need your mandate to cope with any external threat,” Saakashvili told the people of Georgia in a televised address to the nation, having blamed the Kremlin for the demonstrations.
For his detractors it was a victory. They had descended on the capital vowing to keep up their protests until an election was called. They have pointed to his imposition of a state of emergency, as well as images of police brutally beating protestors, as proof of Saakashvili’s determination to hang on to power.
Five hundred people have been injured in clashes. More than 100 remain in hospital. Russia has insisted it had nothing to do with the insurrection, but it expelled three Georgian diplomats in a tit-for-tat action after Georgia expelled three Russians.