Georgia brings forward presidential vote-president

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TBILISI, Nov 8 (Reuters) Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said today he intended to seek a fresh mandate in a presidential election which he proposed bringing forward by several months to Jan. 5.

Georgian riot police broke up a six-day-old protest tomorrow in which demonstrators had demanded Saakashvili's resignation and an early parliamentary election.

''It is my proposal to hold presidential elections on January 5, 2008,'' Saakashvili said. ''You demanded early elections but now you have them even earlier.'' Under the constitution, the president should resign 45 days before the election date. This calendar would imply Saakashvili stepping down later this month.

Georgia had been scheduled to hold both presidential and parliamentary elections in the autumn of next year.

''I, as the leader of this nation, need your mandate to cope with any external threat, to manage any pressure and to do away with an attempt to annex Georgia's territory,'' Saakashvili said.

''I, as president of this nation, take this decision and make this proposal to hold a vote of confidence on my mandate, to receive unambiguous support from you to continue building our country.'' He also said he wanted to hold a referendum on the same day as the presidential election to decide when to hold a parliamentary election.

Reuters NY DB2257

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