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Nino Burjanadze

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Updated: 25.11.2003

Georgia's interim president

Nino Burjanadze has assumed the presidency until fresh elections

Ms Burjanadze comes from a wealthy Georgian family and trained as a lawyer before entering politics.

When she was first elected to the country's parliament, in 1995, she was regarded as a protegee of Mr Shevardnadze, and in 2000 her father - a prominent businessman - financed the president's re-election campaign.

But she gradually became disillusioned with Mr Shevardnadze and formed her own party, the Burjanadze-Democrats, just before the controversial November 2003 parliamentary elections.

As speaker of the outgoing parliament, Ms Burjanadze automatically assumed the function of president when Eduard Shevardnadze stepped down following massive protests triggered by the controversial 2003 elections.

Ms Burjanadze had appealed for calm as opposition supporters angered at the outcome of the elections - which many observers alleged had been marred by voting irregularities - stormed the parliament building on 22 November.

A day later, the 39-year-old mother-of-two explained that under the Georgian constitution, following the departure of Mr Shevardnadze she would take on the office of president until fresh elections could be held.

She praised the people of Georgia for bringing about a bloodless "velvet revolution" and promised that the next elections - to be held within 45 days - would be free and fair.

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