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Georgian Presidential Elections to be Held January 4


Georgia's parliament has set January 4 as the date for presidential elections, following Sunday's resignation by long-time President Eduard Shevardnadze. The parliament set the date in keeping with Georgia's constitution, which requires a new election within 45 days.

New parliamentary elections are also expected, after Georgia's highest court formally invalidated this month's election that sparked massive anti-government demonstrations and led to Mr. Shevardnadze's resignation.

But parliament put off setting the date for the parliamentary elections until Wednesday.

Earlier, Interim President Nino Burjandadze met with her government to try to deal with urgent problems, including the economy.

[The] political situation, I think, [is] now more or less stable," she said. "Concerning [the] economic situation we have really a lot of problems. Unfortunately, our budget is absolutely empty, I can say. We have zero in [the] state budget, and we are not able to pay pensions," she said. "We are not able to pay salaries. We are not able to pay anything for [the] army, for [the] police. So we need just to mobilize all resources which could be mobilized. and of course we will ask [for] help and assistance from our friends from [the] international community."

Ms. Burjanadze spoke to reporters after the government meeting. Her ally and Georgia's main opposition political leader, Mikhail Saakashvili of the National Movement, has warned that a failure to hold early elections could again bring Georgia to the brink of civil war.

Mr. Saakashvili did not elaborate, but his remarks appear to concern the autonomous province of Adharia, on the Black Sea. The province is led by his arch-rival, Aslan Abashidze, who declared a state of emergency in Adharia and said he was breaking off relations with the interim government in Tbilisi, until a new president is elected.

The opposition says it will field only one candidate in the presidential election. That candidate has not yet been officially nominated, but is widely expected to be Mr. Saakashvili.

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