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Georgian President Sacks Military Chief

General Zaza Gogava (left) visiting Georgian troops in Iraq this summer

General Zaza Gogava (left) visiting Georgian troops in Iraq this summer

TBILISI (Reuters) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has replaced the country's military leader, saying "shortcomings" during a war with Russia need addressing.

"We must not forget that the enemy still stands at our door," said Saakashvili, who had not previously criticized the military's performance despite Russia driving the Georgian Army from breakaway South Ossetia in just a few days in August's war.

"I want to thank the previous chief of the General Staff, but I also want to say that the shortcomings we uncovered must be eliminated," he said.

Russian troops pulled back from buffer zones last month to within South Ossetia and the second breakaway region of Abkhazia, having repelled a Georgian bid to retake South Ossetia from pro-Moscow separatists.

Several thousand Russian troops remain in both regions, which the Kremlin has recognized as independent states.

Tens of thousands of Georgian villagers displaced by the fighting remain homeless.

Pro-Western Saakashvili, under fire from opponents over his handling of the crisis, told a meeting of Defense Ministry officials he had replaced General Staff chief Zaza Gogava.

Career soldier Vladimer Chachibaia will replace Gogava, who becomes head of the border police.

Saakashvili replaced the prime minister last week, saying the government needed new energy after the war. The reshuffled cabinet contains only four changes.

Some opposition factions have called for a protest outside the parliament on November 7, the first anniversary of a police crackdown against opposition demonstrators that shocked Saakashvili's Western backers.