"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
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Rose Revolution refers to a peaceful 2003 revolution in the country of Georgia that displaced president Eduard Shevardnadze. Georgia had been governed by Eduard Shevardnadze since 1992 (President of Georgia since 1995). His government—and his own family—became increasingly associated with pervasive corruption that hampered Georgia's economic growth. The country remained very poor by European standards. Two Russian-supported breakaway regions (Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia) remained outside the control of the Tbilisi government, and the autonomous republic of Ajara was ruled by semi-separatist leader Aslan Abashidze. The political and socioeconomic crisis was close to reaching its peak just before the parliamentary elections appointed on November 2, 2003. Shevardnadze’s political alliance “For New Georgia” and Abashidze’s “Union of Democratic Revival of Georgia” were opposed by popular opposition parties: Mikhail Saakashvili’s “United National Movement” and “Burjanadze-Democrats” led by Parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze and ex-speaker Zurab Zhvania.
Georgia held parliamentary elections on November 2, 2003 which were denounced by local and international observers as being grossly rigged. Mikhail Saakashvilli claimed that he had won the elections (a claim supported by independent exit polls), and urged Georgians to demonstrate against Shevardnadze's government and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. The main democratic opposition parties united to demand the ouster of Shevardnadze and the rerun of the elections.
In mid-November, massive anti-governmental demonstrations started in the central streets of Tbilisi, soon involving almost all major cities and towns of Georgia. “Kmara” (“Enough!”) youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbian “Otpor”) and several NGOs were active in all protest activities. Shevardnadze’s government was backed by Aslan Abashidze, the semi-separatist leader of autonomous Ajara region, who sent thousands of his supporters to hold a pro-governmental counter-demonstration in Tbilisi.
The opposition protest reached its peak on November 22, the day of an opening session of a new parliament, which was considered illegitimate. The same day, opposition supporters led by Saakashvili with roses in their hands (hence the name Rose Revolution) seized the parliament building interrupting a speech of President Eduard Shevardnadze and forcing him to escape with his bodyguards. He later declared a state of emergency and began to mobilize troops and police near his residence in Tbilisi. However, the elite military units refused to support the government. In the evening of November 23 (St George’s Day in Georgia), Shevardnadze met with the opposition leaders Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania to discuss the situation, in a meeting arranged by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. After the meeting, the president announced his resignation. That prompted an euphoria in the streets of Tbilisi. More than 100,000 protesters celebrated the victory all night long, accompanied by fireworks and rock-concerts.
The outgoing speaker of parliament, Nino Burjanadze, assumed the presidency until fresh elections could be held. The Supreme Court of Georgia annulled the results of the parliamentary elections. In the January 4, 2004 presidential election Mikhail Saakashvili won an overwhelming victory and was inaugurated as the new President of Georgia on January 25. On March 28, 2004, new parliamentary elections were held, with a large majority won by the Saakashvili-supporting National Movement - Democrats, and a minority representation of the Rightist Opposition.