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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Early Georgian Vote Called a 'Farce'

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday denounced Georgia's planned early presidential election as a "farce," staged by its leader to stay at the helm.

President Mikheil Saakashvili announced the early election after declaring a nationwide state of emergency on Nov. 7 -- the day when riot police violently dispersed opposition protests. Saakashvili said the measures were necessary to thwart what he described as a coup attempt staged by Moscow.

The Foreign Ministry derided Saakashvili's claims and said the short time left before the vote and the nationwide state of emergency had made a fair campaign impossible. The Georgian parliament ruled Thursday that the state of emergency would be lifted Friday.

Also Thursday, the military has completed its withdrawal of troops based in Georgia since the 1991 Soviet collapse, but several thousand soldiers remain as peacekeepers.