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Georgian Parliament Calls For Adjar Leader's Resignation

Aslan Abashidze 4 May 2004 -- Georgia's parliament today unanimously passed a resolution calling on Aslan Abashidze, the leader of the autonomous region of Adjaria, to resign.

The resolution said that if Abashidze does not fulfil the demands of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili by 12 May, then parliament will support Saakashvili's decision to dissolve the local institutions in Adjaria and order new elections there.

Saakashvili today called on police and other armed groups in Adjaria to give up their arms and stop taking orders from the Adjar leader.

In a televised statement, Saakashvili said he was "canceling" the state of emergency imposed by Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze, and called on police and militiamen not to enforce it.

"I want to address all the members of the armed units in Adjaria and members of Adjaria's police force. I order you not to follow a single order from Aslan Abashidze connected to the state of emergency and the beatings of the people. I declare this state of emergency completely illegal and call on all policemen not to follow such orders," Saakashvili said.

Authorities in the Adjar capital of Batumi today violently broke up a protest calling for Abashidze's resignation. At least 40 people were reported to be hospitalized after the clash.

Abashidze has declared a state of emergency and a curfew in the region and closed all schools and universities for two weeks. He rejected the Georgian government's deadline for reform, and said he intends to treat any acts of opposition in Adjaria "with utmost severity."