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Saakashvili Promises Provincial Elections, Negotiations


http://gdb.rferl.org/150C8EB1-D29F-4413-9F19-18A5B86A1EF8_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/150C8EB1-D29F-4413-9F19-18A5B86A1EF8_mw800_mh600.jpg 6 May 2004 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today announced that provincial elections will be held soon and vowed to pursue the integration of two separatist regions through negotiations.

Saakashvili's remarks came not long after proclaiming the start of Georgian unification after forcing out the leader of the Autonomous Republic of Adjaria, Aslan Abashidze.

Speaking to crowds in Adjaria's regional capital Batumi, Saakashvili said Abashidze had ruled the region like "some kind of mini-Saddam Hussein."

"It was a real dictatorship, very little appreciated [by] the world in that way. It was a person who was oppressing people -- some kind of mini-Saddam Hussein, I mean, with all the attributes of a real dictatorship," Saakashvili said.

When asked today about Tbilisi's stance concerning the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Saakashvili promised negotiations on reunifying the country.

Moscow today said that it is happy that the crisis in Adjaria was resolved peacefully, after its pro-Moscow leader fled into exile to Russia.

For RFE/RL's complete coverage of the events in Georgia and Adjaria, click here.

(Reuters/AP/AFP)
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