DECREE ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA on Holding of Nation-Wide Plebiscite among Electors - Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia

In accordance with the decision of the separatist regime of Abkhazia, on 23 November 1996 the so-called parliamentary elections will be held in Abkhazia. Despite the numerous warnings on the Part of Georgian Authorities, the UN Security Council, UN and other competent international organizations, that holding elections in the Autonomous Republic would only be possible only within the framework of comprehensive political settlement, after status of Abkhazia is defined, with full respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and provided vast majority of the population of Abkhazia - internally displaced persons and refugees are capable to participated in it, the decision of the separatists remains intact.

In order to identify attitude of the vast majority legitimate electors of Abkhazia, that is, refugees and internally displaced persons towards this so called parliamentary elections to be held by the separatist regime, pursuant to the law of Georgian on Referendum adopted on 15 May 1996, I decree:

1. To hold nation-wide referendum among the internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia on 23 November 1996.

2. In addition to those citizens referred to in article 1, those electors of Abkhazia living in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia or beyond its border, who do not have status of internally displaced persons or refugees and want to fix their attitude toward parliamentary elections organized by separatist may take part in the Referendum.

3. To introduce in a Referendum paper the following question:

“ Do you support holding parliamentary elections organized by the separatist regime in the Autonomous Republic until the territorial integrity of Georgia is restored and internally displaces persons and refugees are returned to their homes?

2. The Central Election Commission shall be entrusted with a task of preparing and holding the Referendum.

3. Minister of Finance of Georgia (D. Iakobidze) shall allocate necessary financial resources in accordance with the expenditure standards of the Central election Commission of Georgia.

4. Ministries and Agencies of Georgia, competent authorities of Autonomous Republics of Abkhazia and Ajara, regional administrations, mayors of cities and towns shall be entrusted with a task of securing holding the referendum in full conformity with the law.

5. To publish this decree without delay and publicize it trough mass media.

E. Shevardnadze

31 October 1996

(Newspaper “Afkhazetis Khma”, # 15, 6 November 1996)