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Incumbent Abkhaz Leader Wins ‘Presidential Runoff’

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Raul Khajimba, incumbent leader of occupied Abkhazia, has garnered 47.38% of votes against 46.19% of votes received by his rival, Alkhas Kvitsinia, leader of the main opposition party Amtsakhara, during the second round runoffs of “presidential polls” held in occupied Abkhazia on September 8, Tamaz Gogia, chairman of the region’s election administration, announced on Monday.

“President” and “vice president” were elected simultaneously for a term of five years. Thus, the region’s population elected Aslan Bartsits, head of “the Presidential Administration Expert Department” as “vice president.”

152 polling stations were opened in the occupied region for the second round runoff of the so called “presidential elections.” Two more polling stations were opened in the Russian Federation’s Moscow and Cherkessk.

The region’s election administration registered 127,136 voters for the second round of elections and 83,883 citizens (65.98%) turned out to polling stations on September 8. At least, 25% of voters had to cast their ballots to declare elections valid.

Raul Khajimba, who was re-elected for the second five-year term, announced his victory later on September 8. His rival, Alkhas Kvitsinia did not recognize the election results, demanding the region’s election administration to annul them.

Kvitsinia’s supporters gathered outside his campaign headquarters in Sokhumi late at night. Earlier this morning, the region’s “central election commission” rejected Kvitsinia’s appeal with its chairman, Tamaz Gogia saying that the candidate can challenge the commission’s decision in court.

The first round of “presidential polls” was held on August 25. Nine candidates participated with voter turnout reaching 66.5%.

Abkhaz “elections” are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia said on September 8 that the elections “have no legitimacy against the background of hundreds of thousands of people currently displaced from their territories.”

Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili also condemned the Abkhazia “presidential elections” as “illegitimate.” Commenting on the issue on September 9, she expressed readiness “for dialogue with Abkhaz society.”

A number of countries condemned the elections in Abkhazia two weeks ago, following the first round.

On September 5, the Group of Friends of Georgia to the OSCE Permanent Council, including Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States, released a joint statement, reaffirming their countries’ support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and noting that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the so-called “presidential elections” held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region on August 25.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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