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Georgian Leader, Back on Job, Asks Rebels to Quit

September 16, 1993| From Associated Press

TBILISI, Georgia — Armed with new emergency powers, Georgian leader Eduard A. Shevardnadze flew to a war-torn western region Wednesday and appealed to rebels to end their violent struggle against his government.

"I warn you, beg you, appeal to you! Don't do this! Do you really think we have no force?" Shevardnadze said after rebels attacked government positions overnight, killing nine.

He told Parliament that Georgian troops had held back to spare the lives of innocent people and to give negotiations a last chance but now were prepared to launch a major counteroffensive.

On Tuesday, Shevardnadze submitted his resignation in a maneuver to force Parliament to approve a state of emergency, then recess its session. He reclaimed his job after lawmakers met his demands.

Taking advantage of the disarray, rebels using armored personnel carriers and grenade launchers captured a strategic rail and road junction. Defense officials said the capture cut the last major link between Tbilisi and Georgian ports on the Black Sea.

The rebel troops are loyal to former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who was ousted in a January, 1992, military putsch.

Mingrelia province in the west, the heartland of Gamsakhurdia support, remains effectively outside central government control.

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