In the early hours of Friday, parliament in Georgia's western province of Adzharia abolished the constitutional clause vesting the executive authority in the provincial leader, Adzharian television reports. The abolition of the provincial leader's post was the last motion adopted by the legislature of the rebellious autonomy before its own dissolution.
In a televised interview yesterday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili reassured the Adzharian people that the province would retain its autonomous status.
"The autonomy's status is not in danger. But the problem now is not which status it has got, but that here was a regime with more authority than befits an autonomy. Adzharia was virtually separated from the rest of Georgia," Saakashvili said.
"The autonomy used to have an armed force and a police of its own. But it's a thing of the past now. I will never tolerate the existence in Georgian territory of several armies and ministries of national security and of the interior," he proceeded.
According to Saakashvili, direct presidential rule is being introduced in Adzharia only for the transitional period. The status of autonomy will be restored to the province after the next election, tentatively scheduled for mid-June.
Preparations for early elections to the Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the Adzharian province is one of the priority tasks to be carried out by an interim council established by presidential decree.
"The Interim Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adzharia that is now being set up will be operating for approximately forty days; and then we'll call a new parliamentary election, to be held tentatively in mid-June of this year," Saakashvili said.
In the runup to the legislative polls in Adzharia, Georgia's parliament is going to carefully consider the issue of the province's new autonomous status and to recommend to the future Adzharian legislature that it introduce appropriate amendments so as to bring the relationship between the central and the provincial governments in line with international rules and regulations.