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Georgia: Parliament Extends Deadline For Registration Of Presidential Candidates

Tbilisi, 28 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia's parliament today unanimously decided to extend until 1 December the deadline for candidates to enter the race for the 4 January 2004 presidential election. So far, five people have registered as candidates, including opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, seen as the favorite to win the poll. Parliament is yet to set a date for new parliamentary elections.

A parliamentary election earlier this month was widely seen as fraudulent. It was followed by weeks of opposition protests that forced President Eduard Shevardnadze to step down amid allegations his supporters had rigged the poll.

Several senior officials have also resigned since then, including the foreign minister and the head of the Central Election Commission, who both handed in their resignations today.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov held separate talks with the leaders of Georgia's three autonomous regions -- Adjaria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Tbilisi's control in two civil wars in the early 1990s with Moscow's covert backing.