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The News in Brief

Friday, August 30
Foreign Ministry: All Georgian citizens have left Syria

All Georgian citizens in Syria have now left the country, a Georgian Foreign Ministry statement said on Thursday.

According to the Georgian embassy in Egypt, which also represents the country's interests in Syria and Tunisia, at this stage no Georgian citizens are in Syria.

The last group to leave Syria last week was a family in Homs. It was on the recommendation and with the support of the Georgian consulate in Egypt that these Georgian citizens left Syria, the foreign ministry reported.

The Foreign Ministry has called on Georgian citizens who are still possibly in Syria, to inform the Georgian Embassy in Egypt or Foreign Ministry in Tbilisi.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry also "asks those citizens who have information about their relatives in Syria, to inform the embassy in Egypt and the central office of the Georgian Foreign Ministry in order to assist them in leaving the country."

On August 21st, media outlets reported a large-scale deployment of chemical weapons near Damascus by Syrian government troops.

According to preliminary data, there were over 600 victims of the attack. The National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition claims that the number of victims could reach 1,300 people. After the incident, both sides of the conflict repeatedly proclaimed their innocence and accused their opponents. (

Several rallies supporting Muslim prayer held in Georgia

A protest rally was held in the center of Batumi in on August 28th, condemning the authorities' removal of a minaret from a mosque in the village of Chela in the Adigeni municipality.

Protesters, mainly from the Muslim community, demanded an immediate return of the minaret back to the mosque in Chela, located in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Some protesters held banners that read "Hands off from Islam".

Earlier in the same day, Archil Khabadze, head of the Adjaran government and a close ally of Prime Minister Ivanishvili, met Muslim clerics and prayers in a mosque in Batumi. He was told that the Muslim community is insulted by what happened in Chela. Khabadze was also told that those behind the forcible removal of the minaret should be punished and the authorities should apologize for insulting the religious feelings of the Muslim community.

Khabadze told journalists after the meeting that he had conveyed to Muslim clerics and to the Muslim community "the many promises and requests" of the PM; the latter has not yet made any public comment or statement about the removal of the minaret.

“[The PM] stands beside them and there should be no place for such misunderstandings.” Khabadze said. “It [the removal of the minaret] was surprising for me and I think it was a hasty [decision] and should now be rectified.”

Jemal Paksadze, the mufti of the Georgian Muslims` Directorate, said that Khabadze conveyed the PM’s message that "this minaret will be returned back to the mosque" in Chela. (Rustavi 2)

CEC chairperson’s authority expires today

Zurab Kharatishvili’s authority as CEC chairman officially expires today, CEC spokesperson Eka Azarashvili told journalists. She said that President Saakashvili has 15 days to nominate three candidates for the post of chairperson to the CEC.

"Georgian Dream members have to approve one of the candidates nominated by the president within five days." Eka Azarashvili said.

If within five days the CEC chairperson is not selected, the process will move to parliament.

Zurab Kharatishvili announced his resignation on August 12th, and parliament officially accepted his resignation on August 14th.

Zurab Kharatishviil cited a desire to enter politics as the reason for his resignation as CEC chairman.

The new CEC chairperson will be selected via secret ballot. Each participating ballot member has one vote. The new CEC chairperson will be considered selected if any candidate takes 4 or over 4 votes. 11 NGOs have named Tamar Zhvania as the candidate for their post of CEC chairperson. (ipn)