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Abkhaz Leader Fires PM, Warns of Possible Civil War - 2004-10-06

The outgoing president of Georgia's Abkhazia region, Vladislav Ardzinba, has fired his chosen successor and warned of a possible civil war in the breakaway area.

Mr. Ardzinba removed Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba from his post Wednesday and replaced him with a former Russian emergency ministries official, Nodar Khashba.

He also blamed opposition candidate Sergei Bagapsh for the region's current political problems that began after Sunday's presidential elections.

Mr. Bagapsh has already claimed victory against Mr. Khadjimba. Election officials say latest returns put Mr. Bagapsh in the lead.

Mr. Khadjimba wanted the election voided because of alleged fraud.

Electoral officials say the southern Gali district will hold a re-vote on October 17 because of voting problems.

The contest was the first open presidential election in Abkhazia since the area declared independence from Georgia in 1993. Georgian officials say the vote was illegal.