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    SAAKASHVILI: ABKHAZIANS AND SOUTH OSSETIANS TO PARTICIPATE IN NEXT ELECTIONS

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    TBILISI, January 3rd, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Mikhail Saakashvili, a presidential candidate and leader of the National Movement party, has stated that these elections in Georgia will be the last ones without the participation of residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (two self-proclaimed republics of Georgia).

    On Saturday Saakashvili visited the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and met Georgian voters living there.

    According to Saakashvili's election HQ in Tbilisi, the would-be president met Georgian residents of the Tamarasheni settlement where polling stations will open on Sunday. This is the only settlement in the area densely populated by Georgians participating in the January 4th presidential elections. The settlement is headed by a joint Georgian-Ossetian administration.

    Besides, Saakashvili visited today an administrative centre of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, where he talked to the local residents for about a quarter of an hour. The meeting went down smoothly.

    Saakashvili was escorted by Interior Minister Georgy Baramidze and presidential plenipotentiary in South Ossetia Irakly Okruashvili.

    According to the Georgian law, run-up propaganda is allowed till midnight.

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