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New Georgian Presidential Vote Set for January 4th - 2003-11-26


Georgia's parliament has unanimously set January fourth as the date to elect a successor to ousted President Eduard Shevardnadze.

Lawmakers voted on the issue Tuesday.

Interim President Nino Burjanadze has not yet decided if she will be a candidate. She promised parliament that the new elections will be held in an atmosphere of calm and peace.

Main opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili -- who led the popular uprising that forced Mr. Shevardnadze's resignation -- said the opposition would try to name a single presidential candidate. He told the Associated Press Tuesday that if he runs, he would surely win.

The lawmakers meet again Thursday to pick a date for new parliamentary elections. The Georgian Supreme Court has thrown out the results of the November second vote that the opposition claims was stolen by the Shevardnadze government.

Also Tuesday, acting President Burjanadze warned that Georgia is on the verge of economic collapse. She cited what she says is new data indicating that the economy is worse than previously thought. She has called for international aid.

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it is sending a team to Georgia next week to discuss the upcoming election and other urgent matters.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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