Georgia's Saakashvili seeks martial law approval

Sat Aug 9, 2008 5:25am EDT

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TBILISI, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Saturday he would ask parliament to approve the introduction of martial law while Georgian forces battle Russian and separatist forces in the rebel South Ossetia region.

"Today I'm going to sign a decree to introduce martial law in Georgia and present it to parliament for approval," he told a meeting of Georgia's Security Council in televised remarks.

Parliament needs to vote on the decree but approval is seen as a formality as Saakashvili's allies dominate the chamber.

Saakashvili said he had to introduce martial law because "Georgia is now facing military aggression from Russia".

Russian forces have joined separatists in South Ossetia fighting Georgian soldiers, and Russian jets have bombed military and civilian targets in Georgia.

Russia says it is defending its allies in South Ossetia and accused Georgia of triggering the heavy fighting that erupted on Friday. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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