Georgian President Sworn In
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Georgia’s President Eduard Shevardnadze was sworn in for a second term on Easter Sunday and he promised that he would turn the country’s slumping economy around over the next five years of his presidency.
As Shevardnadze put his right hand on a Bible and swore the oath of office, Catalikos-Patriarch Ilia II, the leader of the Georgian church, congratulated him and said he would be ``a symbol of a peaceful and strong Georgia as before.″
Shevardnadze easily won a second term in elections on April 9.
The outdoor swearing-in ceremony was held in front of the parliament building and was followed by a military parade.
``The day of inauguration coincided with the great feast of Easter,″ Shevardnadze said after taking the oath. ``It is a sign from above, a symbol of our turn to God, that our nation is in for revival and flowering.″
Shevardnadze, who has been criticized for failing to revive the economy and deal with widespread unemployment and poverty, promised to tackle the country’s economic problems during his second five-year term.
``This year, we opened a new chapter in Georgian history,″ Shevardnadze said. ``At this new stage, the economy will undertake a 180-degree turn toward the solution of social problems. The gap between the poor and rich will be lessened during the next three to four years.″
Shevardnadze, 72, gained world renown as Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev and has gained respect for bringing stability to Georgia after years of unrest that followed the 1991 Soviet collapse.
At the ceremony, Shevardnadze was accompanied by his wife, Nanuli, and Avtandil Demetrashvili, chairman of the Constitutional court, who administered the oath.