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WILL SHEVARDNADZE CAMPAIGN FOR THE GEORGIAN PRESIDENCY?

SHARE WILL SHEVARDNADZE CAMPAIGN FOR THE GEORGIAN PRESIDENCY?

Eduard Shevardnadze says his native Georgia should join the new commonwealth now that the republic's president has been ousted in what the former Soviet foreign minister called a "democratic revolution."

Shevardnadze said in an interview with The Associated Press that he would like to play a role in rebuilding Georgia and would not rule out running for its vacant presidency.President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who fled to neighboring Armenia on Monday, was a "dictator" who ignored human rights and kept Georgia out of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Shevardnadze said.

During the bloody two-week revolt that led to Gamsakhurdia's ouster, commonwealth leaders said Georgia could not join until its power struggle was resolved.

"Great harm was done by this (Gamsakhurdia) regime because Georgia was isolated economically, politically, morally - both here in the framework of the commonwealth and in Europe, the whole world," Shevardnadze said.

Gamsakhurdia, who was overwhelmingly elected in May in Georgia's first popular vote, has accused Shevardnadze of masterminding the campaign to oust him. Opponents say Gamsakhurdia became dictatorial after taking office.

Shevardnadze, 64, said he was creating an international fund to help Georgia recover from the brutal power struggle that took more than 70 lives and devastated downtown Tbilisi, the capital.