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Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been arrested after returning to Georgia to mobilise supporters ahead of national municipal elections that are seen as critical to the country's political makeup.
The announcement by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Friday came about 18 hours after Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia on abuse of power charges and has lived in Ukraine in recent years, posted on Facebook that he was back in the country.
Details of the arrest were not immediately clear, but Georgian TV broadcast video of Saakashvili in handcuffs, with a wide smile on his face, being taken into custody by police.
In earlier Facebook video, Saakashvili said he was in Batumi, the Black Sea port and resort that is Georgia's second-largest city. Georgian officials earlier in the day had denied he was in the country.
In the posts, Saakashvili called said Saturday's elections "crucial" for Georgia and had called for a rally in Tbilisi on Sunday, promising to join it.
Saakashvili's attempts to rally Georgians could upend the ruling party's plans to secure dominance in the balloting for mayors and local assemblies that is widely regarded as a vote of confidence in the national government and could trigger early elections next year.
Saakashvili was president in 2004-13 and was renowned for his energetic efforts against Georgia's endemic corruption, but Georgians became increasingly uneasy with what they saw as his authoritarian inclinations and his sometimes-mercurial behaviour.
He had come to power in the Rose Revolution demonstrations that drove the previous president, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, to resign.
Saakashvilii left the country soon after the 2013 election, in which he could not run, was won by the candidate from Georgian Dream.
In 2018, Georgian courts convicted and sentenced him to up to six years in prison at which point he moved to Ukraine.