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Georgia: Shevardnaze Asks Citizens Of Abkhazia Not To Vote

Tbilisi, Georgia; 24 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze today called on citizens in breakaway Abkhazia not to participate in elections planned in the separatist region for next month.

Shevardnadze also praised a U.N. Security Council resolution issued two days ago that called for Abkhazia to cancel the elections until the region's political status could be determined.

Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili said yesterday at a news conference that, whether the elections are held or not, the Georgian leadership would adhere to the peaceful settlement of the dispute.

The Georgian parliament has called the upcoming elections in Abkhazia illegal. It said the vote could not be valid since some 250,000 refugees have yet to be repatriated to Abkhazia.

The refugees fled when fighting erupted between Georgian and Abkhaz forces in 1993. The conflict ended 13 months later with routed Georgian units retreating from the region. Commonwealth of Independent States troops and U.N. observers remain in Abkhazia.