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Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Georgia's PM fired by president

President Mikhail Saakashvili
President Saakashvili is coming under renewed criticism

President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia has announced that he is replacing his prime minister.

"We took a joint decision with Lado Gurgenidze that he will no longer serve as prime minister," the president told a meeting of MPs.

He did not say why the decision was made. It is not clear if it was linked to Georgia's war with Russia in August.

Mr Saakashvili said he was promoting Georgia's ambassador to Turkey, Grigol Mgaloblishvili, to prime minister.

Mr Mgaloblishvili, 35, will be asked to submit a new list of cabinet ministers for parliament's approval.

The president said Mr Gurgenidze, a former banker who has been in office for a year, would head a new financial commission focusing on the stabilisation of Georgia's financial system.

The conflict in August has dented investor confidence and damaged the country's previously healthy growth.

Last week Western donors pledged $4.5bn (2.7bn; 3.5bn euros) to help rebuild Georgia.

Lado Gurgenidze
Lado Gurgenidze has held the PM's post for less than a year

The conflict in the region began on 7 August when Georgia tried to retake its breakaway region of South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes with Russian-backed rebels.

Russia launched a counter-attack and the Georgian troops were ejected from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second breakaway region, days later.

Russian forces remain in the two regions, and Moscow has backed their declarations of independence.

Georgia's opposition parties swung behind the government during the fighting, but have since resumed criticism of Mr Saakashvili.

Some factions have called for street protests on 7 November, the first anniversary of a police crackdown against opposition demonstrators.


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