The leader of Soviet Georgia's communists resigned Friday, a month after they were swept from power by nationalists, and his successor voiced support for parliament's demands for independence from Moscow.

"I see the main goal of the party as pursuing the politics of the parliament. The goals of the party and parliament should be the same," Avtandil Margiani told reporters after being elected first secretary of the republic's Communist Party.Georgia's new nationalist-dominated parliament wants full independence from Moscow within five years.

Local journalists said Margiani, 45, replaced Givi Gumbaridze as leader at a special party congress in the capital.

Gumbaridze, they said, told the congress the party needed a new leader to rebuild its power as an opposition force.

In elections a month ago, the communists were swept from government in the southern republic for the first time since Soviet communists seized power 70 years ago.

A nationalist government headed by former dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected by a decisive margin. The communists won only 64 of 250 parliamentary seats.

Their defeat followed a pattern of nationalist victories in several areas, including the northern Baltic republics.

The central Communist Party of the Soviet Union meets in Moscow Monday amid signs of a communist backlash in areas where liberals have won power.