Georgia lifts state of emergency

Move comes as Russia pulls troops out of the country.

    Georgian troops patrolled the streets of Tbilisi
    during the state of emergency [AFP]

    The state of emergency was imposed after police violently dispersed opposition protesters who had been gathered for six days outside the parliament building in the capital Tblisi.
     
    Independent news broadcasts and demonstrations were banned.
     
    The US had warned that the state of emergency harmed the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili's, efforts to integrate the small Caucasus nation into the European Union and NATO.
     
    Saakashvili called early presidential elections to be held on January 5 to try to defuse the worst political crisis he has faced in the four years since he came to power in the so-called Rose revolution.

    The president has consistently accused Russia of meddling in his country's affairs.

    The Russian foreign ministry denounced the early vote as a "farce" to "keep the current government in power."

    Moscow had said earlier on Thursday it had completed pulling out its troops from Georgia, leaving only "peacekeepers" behind.

    The presence of Russian troops - based in Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union - had been a constant irritant between the two countries.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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