TIMELINE: Events leading to Georgia’s election

(Reuters) – Here is a chronology of events leading to a parliamentary election in Georgia on Wednesday:

November 2, 2007 – Up to 70,000 people demanding early elections protest against President Mikheil Saakashvili in the biggest show of unrest since a peaceful revolution swept him to power four years earlier.

November 4 – Saakashvili rejects opposition demands for early parliamentary elections and also denies accusations he has failed to reform the economy and tackle corruption.

November 7 – Saakashvili declares a 15-day countrywide state of emergency after sending in riot police to battle protesters.

— Armed police special forces storm the main opposition television station, Imedi, taking it off the air.

— Saakashvili blames Russia for stirring up civil strife after clashes with protesters in Tbilisi calling for his resignation. Saakashvili’s desire to join NATO and his drive to regain sovereignty over two breakaway pro-Russian provinces has already angered Moscow, which in 2006 cut transport links.

November 8 – Saakashvili pledges to put himself up for re-election in January.

November 15 – Parliament confirms emergency laws will be lifted within 24 hours. The International Monetary Fund says the turmoil has damaged the country’s reputation with investors.

November 27 – German police arrest exiled opposition leader Irakly Okruashvili following a request from Georgian authorities.

— Okruashvili had left Georgia under political pressure earlier in November after sparking the anti-government demonstrations with corruption allegations.

January 5, 2008 – Saakashvili wins the snap presidential election outright with final tally of 53.38 percent of the vote.

January 8 – Opposition leaders accuse the election commission chief of stealing half a million votes to fix Saakashvili’s re-election.

February 21 – Russian President Vladimir Putin warns Saakashvilli it would damage bilateral relations if Georgia joined NATO. NATO leaders, meeting in Bucharest in early April, fail to offer Ukraine and Georgia a Membership Action Plan (MAP), a gateway to possible entry, but agree to let them join the defense alliance one day.

April 13 – The leaders of Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia say they have rejected a power-sharing deal offered by Tbilisi and will accept nothing less than full independence.

April 21 – Georgia accuses Russia of shooting down an unmanned Georgian reconnaissance plane in an “act of international aggression”. Moscow hits back, saying Georgia is deliberately fanning tensions.

April 29 – Russia despatches extra peacekeeping troops to Abkhazia to counter what it says were Georgian plans for an attack. NATO later accuses Moscow of stoking tensions.

May 4 – Abkhazia says they have shot down two Georgian spy drones over the territory, but Georgia denies there were any such flights. Four days later they say another was shot down.

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