Saakashvili declares push for early elections in Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) " Mikhail Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who has resigned as governor of Ukraine's Odessa region, said on Friday that he will push for early elections in the country.

Saakashvili was appointed governor of the corruption-riddled Black Sea region last year by President Petro Poroshenko. But in his resignation announcement in Odessa earlier this week, Saakashvili said he felt "cheated and tired," and accused Poroshenko of supporting the criminal clans in Odessa.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday the former Georgian president said his goal is to push for "early parliamentary elections as quickly as possible."

Poroshenko has made Ukraine's integration with the European Union a priority, but endemic corruption throughout the country impedes that policy.

During Saakashvili's 2004-2013 tenure as Georgian president, one of his main achievements was a significant reduction in corruption as well as a crackdown on organized crime. He reformed the Georgian police force, ending its long history of bribe-taking.

Hot-tempered and uncompromising, Saakashvili was a divisive figure. He left Georgia after his party lost the 2012 parliamentary election and was stripped of his Georgian citizenship after becoming Odessa governor.

He said his political movement will now team up with other opposition forces to unseat the current authorities, including Poroshenko.

"He had a chance to use me for genuine reforms in this country but it turned out that reforms and his well-being somehow contradict one another," Saakashvili said of the president.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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