Unrecognized republic of Abkhazia elects president

Abkhazia determined to cease relations with Georgia and to cooperate with Russia

The election of the Abkhazian president is considered successful. According to the information from the electoral committee of the unrecognized republic, the turnout exceeded the level of 50 percent and 70 percent in certain areas of the republic.

Abkhazian Prime Minister Raul Khajimba, the director of the state-owned company Chernomorenegro, Sergey Bagapsh, former foreign affairs minister Sergey Shamba, former prime minister Anri Jergenia and People's Party leader Yakub Lakoba are running for the president of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia.

For the time being there is no official information about preliminary results of the voting. The data is said to be released in several hours. The election took place in 35 electoral districts, at 180 polls. A small quantity of inconsiderable violations was registered in the voting, but they did not show any influence on the result of the presidential election, a spokesman for the electoral committee said.

International observers were not present at the polls, as Abkhazia is a self-proclaimed republic. The small country on the coast of the Black Sea is considered to be Russia Russia's ally, although the international community does not recognize the republic. Observers from South Ossetia, Nagorny Karabakh and Transdniestr observed the election.

The authorities of the former Soviet republic of Georgia announced that the presidential election in Abkhazia was illegitimate. Georgian officials were especially perturbed with the fact that several Russian top officials had visited Abkhazia on the threshold of the elections: the Russian deputy prosecutor general Vladimir Kolesnikov and the well-known singer and businessman Joseph Kobzon. These two public personas were not on the territory of Abkhazia on the election day, although the Georgian officials think that it was Moscow's token of support towards Abkhazian separatists.

One of the central nominees in the election, Abkhazian Prime Minister Raul Khajimba, strongly emphasized the aspect of cooperation with Russia in his pre-election campaign. Khajimba told reporters at his poll in Abkhazia's capital Sukhumi that he would continue striving for the complete rupture of relations with Georgia and for the international recognition of Abkhazia.  Khajimba also pointed out priorities of his politics. According to the presidential nominee, close links with Russia would be the key aspect of Abkhazia's politics. “We've had enough of being friends with Georgia,” Khajimba said. “Abkhazia will strive for the international recognition as any other country,” said he.

The situation in the republic on the election day was quiet, contrary to apprehensions. There were a lot of people standing outside each poll, but there were no negative occurrences registered. Only three police officers were seen on poll №2 in Sukhumi, where three of the candidacies decided to vote.

The situation was quiet even in the most problematic district of the republic, which is presumably populated by Georgians - about 60,000 people stayed to live there after the war between Georgia and Abkhazia in 1992-1993.

Incumbent President of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia, Vladislav Ardzinba, does not participate in the election, although he has been holding the post since 1994. According to the republic's constitution, Ardzinba had no right to run for the third term. More importantly, the president has been having health problems lately, which made him pass the authorities to the prime minister. In addition, the latest election in the republic was the first election held on an alternative basis.

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Author`s name Olga Savka