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New Georgian PM to president: “Out of your palace”

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – Georgia’s recently elected billionaire prime minister has urged his political rival, President Mikhail Saakashvili, to leave his luxurious palace to cut government spending in the impoverished U.S. ally that borders Russia.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition won Georgia’s Oct. 1 parliamentary election, defeating Saakashvili’s party. When Saakashvili’s second and final term ends in October 2013, a constitutional reform will transfer many of the president’s current powers to the prime minister.

Ivanishvili told a government session Friday that Saakashvili’s egg-shaped palace in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi costs “too much.” He said it was “immoral” for Saakashvili to live in luxury while tens of thousands of refugees from separatist Georgian provinces live in abject poverty and squalor.

Poverty and unemployment in Georgia remain high despite dramatic growth under Saakashvili.

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