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President fires key minister

Tbilisi, Nov. 24 (Reuters): Georgia’s new leaders took charge today, its interim President meeting influential security chiefs and telling a key minister to quit, after their self-styled “velvet revolution” toppled Eduard Shevardnadze.

Opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, who led the protests which forced the former President to resign, kept a low profile for most of the day. The US-educated lawyer has been tipped as a probable candidate to replace Shevardnadze, whose 11-year rule ended yesterday after three weeks of turbulence in the Caucasus state.

Interim President Nino Burdzhanadze called a meeting of the outgoing parliament tomorrow to set a new date for a presidential election that must be held by early January. She will act as head of state until then.

The steely-eyed 39-year-old lawyer summoned military, police and state security officials to get a fix on security issues — vital in a volatile state reeling from secessionist upheaval.

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