* Police say street cleaners and protesters clash
* Turnout drops sharply on third day of campaign
(Updates with reported attack)
By Margarita Antidze and Matt Robinson
TBILISI, April 11 (Reuters) – Opposition leaders in Georgia accused “hooligans” of attacking their protest venue in Tbilisi on Saturday on the third day of a street campaign to demand President Mikheil Saakashvili resign.
Protesters said between 50 and 100 men tore banners and ripped out computer cables at the stage outside the parliament, where dozens of men were preparing to spend a third night in the street. Several people were assaulted, they said.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said police were checking the reports, but added: “As far as we know so far it was a fight between the street cleaners and the people who were in front of the parliament.”
Up to 5,000 rallied on Saturday, a sharp drop on the previous two days when 60,000 and then 20,000 took to the streets to demand Saakashvili quit over his record on democracy and last year’s disastrous war with Russia.
“This is an insult to the Georgian people and an insult to any dialogue,” Salome Zurabishvili, one of more than a dozen opposition party leaders taking part in the campaign, told reporters shortly after the clash.
Saakashvili ruled out resigning on Friday, but called for dialogue. Some opposition leaders said they had agreed, but the details of a possible meeting have not been set.
Saakashvili, 41, has polarised opinion in the former Soviet republic since coming to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution.
Critics accuse him of monopolising power and exerting pressure on the judiciary and media. A police crackdown in November 2007 against the last peaceful mass demonstrations against Saakashvili shocked his Western backers.
Opposition has grown since Georgia’s disastrous five-day war with Russia last year, when Moscow crushed a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia.
But diplomats question whether the alliance of more than a dozen opposition parties can maintain unity or muster enough people to force Saakashvili out.
Analysts say the president’s ruling United National Movement retains wide support and his position appears strong, despite the defection of some top allies and several cabinet reshuffles.
Many Georgians appear frustrated with political bickering and are sympathetic to government calls for stability as the global economic crisis takes hold.
The opposition said there would be no protest on Sunday to allow supporters to mark Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, which Orthodox Christians celebrate on April 12.