Embattled Georgian Prez Sets Elections

Surprise move aims to end unrest, could end his term a year early
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2007 11:07 AM CST
Troops cordon off the Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Thursday Nov. 8, 2007. Troops flooded the center of the Georgian capital on Thursday to enforce a state of emergency imposed after a violent...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili today announced a special early presidential election for Jan. 5, an apparent attempt to end the massive civil unrest in Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic. It was an abrupt about-face for Saakashvili, who had refused even to consider elections; January's vote could shorten his term by a year, the New York Times reports.

Saakashvili—pro-West and backed by the US—declared a state of emergency yesterday, closing TV stations and banning all assembly in Tbilisi. Opposition leaders are incensed at what they're calling a brutal crackdown on protesters. "The authorities have used weapons against the peaceful demonstrators, and therefore the authorities will get what they deserve from the people,” one opposition legislator said.