Saakashvili Announces Government Overhaul

APSaakashvili adjusting his tie before addressing the UN General Assembly.
UNITED NATIONS -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has announced a major government overhaul, calling it a "second Rose Revolution" to guard against Russian encroachment following last month's war.

In a speech Tuesday before the UN General Assembly, Saakashvili said expanded democratic initiatives would include stronger checks and balances in government, more independence for the parliament and the judiciary, and increased funding for opposition parties.

"We will, in short, fight the specter of aggression and authoritarianism with the most potent weapons in our arsenal -- namely, our commitment to ever-expanding freedoms within our borders," Saakashvili said. "This amounts to nothing less than a second Rose Revolution."

Saakashvili said opposition parties also would have greater access to the airwaves. He pledged that the nation's laws would be strengthened, too, by introducing "enhanced" due process, jury trials and lifetime judicial appointments. Finally, he promised to "expand and deepen protections of private property."

Georgia's first Rose Revolution in 2003 displaced President Eduard Shevardnadze without bloodshed.

Much of Saakashvili's speech focused on countering "the violence and tactics that subverted state sovereignty in Georgia," which, if unchecked, "will spread to other parts of the world."

War erupted between Georgia and Russia last month when Georgia tried to regain control over South Ossetia by force. Russian troops routed the Georgians and pushed deep into Georgia.

U.S. President George W. Bush, hoping to shore up Georgia, told the General Assembly on Tuesday that Russia had violated the UN Charter by invading its neighbor. "The United Nations Charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small," he said. "Russia's invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words."