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NATO membership favored by 77% of Georgians

TBILISI, January 18 (RIA Novosti) - Seventy-seven percent of Georgians want the country to join NATO, the country's Central Electoral Commission said on Friday.

The referendum on accession to the Western military alliance was held at the same time as the January 5 presidential elections in which Mikheil Saakashvili won a second presidential term in the tiny ex-Soviet republic with 53.47% of the vote.

Georgia has sought NATO membership ever since Saakashvili came to power in 2003.

The commission also said 79.74% of voters supported a proposal to move the next parliamentary election forward from the fall of 2008 to the spring.

The new date for parliamentary elections is to be announced by the president.

Saakashvili held an early presidential election and a referendum following massive opposition protests in the capital, Tbilisi, last November.

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