Georgia sets elections for January

The Georgian parliament has set 4 January as the date for a presidential election in the former Soviet republic after Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to resign.

    Over 50,000 demonstrators celebrated Shevardnadze's exit

    Opposition leader Mikhail Saakishvili, who led weeks of opposition protests against Shevardnadze, has said he will run in the election.

    Earlier, the highest court in Georgia quashed most of the results of the parliamentary vote held under the deposed Shevardnadze, paving the way for fresh elections.

    In a televised statement on Tuesday, a Supreme Court judge said that the election of 150 deputies were found invalid. The election of the other 85 deputies will stand.

    Georgia's acting President Nino Burjanadze, another potential candidate, promised that the elections would establish a new democratic era following the overthrow of Shevardadze.

    "We are going to hold democratic and fair elections within the next few weeks. I'm going to do everything to maintain stability and peace in the country," she told lawmakers.

    "The path of democracy is irreversible this time. I'm sure that after (the presidential elections) we will build the foundation of a democratic Georgia," added Burjanadze.

    Shevardnadze stepped down on Sunday in a dramatic climax to weeks of angry street protests over alleged fraud in parliamentary elections, handing over power to Burjanadze, the former parliament speaker.

    Under the Georgian constitution, the election had to be held within 45 days of Shevardnadze's resignation Sunday.

    The opposition had charged that the 2 November parliamentary elections which returned Shevardnadze's government to power were rigged and demanded his resignation.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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