TBILISI (AFP) — Nerves are fraying in the Georgian capital Tbilisi as local residents grow increasingly frustrated with opposition protests that have blocked city streets and disrupted daily life.
Launched on April 9, the protests have been the biggest and longest demonstrations against President Mikheil Saakashvili's rule since a war last year with Russia.
As the number of protesters has dwindled from some 60,000 on the first day to about 3,000 on Friday, opposition leaders have sought to boost pressure on Saakashvili through a campaign of "civil disobedience."
But the patience of local residents is wearing thin over disruptions caused by the protests.
"Our patience is wearing out. It is awful! Ordinary people are becoming the victims of the opposition's fight for power," said Mariam Chaduneli, a 53-year-old linguist.
"Our entire neighbourhood is blocked off from the rest of the city. Is it really necessary for the opposition to interfere with ordinary people's lives this way?" downtown resident Koba Mchedlishvili said.
"The opposition is damaging its interests and its reputation. It is losing people's support by choosing these forms of protest as they cause problems for ordinary citizens," political analyst Gia Nodia said.
"Their strategy is aimed at provoking the authorities and compelling them to use force," Nodia said.
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