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Top ‘Court’ Declares Results of Abkhaz ‘Presidential Polls’ Invalid

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In the evening of January 10, ‘the cassation board of the Supreme Court’ of Russian-occupied Abkhazia declared the outcome of the ‘presidential runoffs’ of September 8, 2019 invalid. The ‘court’ decision requires new ‘presidential polls’ to take place.

The lawsuit was filed by ex-candidate Alkhas Kvitsinia of Abkhaz opposition party of “Amtsakhara.”

The decision comes amid two days of tense protests in Sokhumi, that saw ‘presidential administration’ building stormed by opposition activists on January 9.

Yesterday, Abkhaz ‘parliament’ appealed to ‘president’ Raul Khajimba to resign in order to avoid further escalation of the ongoing political tensions in Sokhumi. Khajimba refused to resign, claiming it would only complicate existing tense situation in the region.

According to Abkhaz sources, earlier today the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Rashid Nurgaliyev arrived in the occupied region.

Abkhaz opposition has been calling for annulment of the outcome of “presidential runoffs” since early September 2019. Incumbent Abkhaz leader won in the second round, garnering 47.38% of votes, while opposition’s Alkhas Kvitsinia, leader of “Amtsakhara” party received 46.19%.

Kvitsinia did not recognize Khajimba’s ‘presidency’ and filed the lawsuit at the “Supreme Court” of the occupied region, demanding annulment of the results of the September 8 “runoff polls.” Kvitsinia lost an appeal in late September. Opposition asked for cancelling the results, claiming Khajimba failed to garner over 50% of the votes as demanded by the procedures. Kvitsinia then filed the lawsuit with same demand at “the board of cassation” of the “Supreme Court”.

“The cassation board” of Abkhaz “Supreme Court” planned to hold a hearing on January 9. Hence, opposition parties of “Amtsakhara” and “United Abkhazia” called on their supporters to gather outside “the Supreme Court” on Thursday. Supporters of opposition then stormed ‘presidential administration’ office in the afternoon of January 9.

Tensions regarding “presidential polls” in Abkhazia have been running high since spring of the last year however, as Aslan Bzhania, one of the leaders of the opposition and a potential ‘presidential’ candidate, was poisoned with heavy metals in April 2019.

Opposition then protested in Sokhumi in May 2019 for postponing the polls. Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba then agreed to postpone the date of ‘presidential elections’, following his talks with opposition leaders. The sides decided to hold the polls on August 25, instead of July 21. Due to his health conditions, Bzhania still failed to participate in ‘elections’ however, and backed opposition’s Kvitsinia to challenge Khajimba.

As none of the nine candidates managed to garner enough votes on August 25repeat polls were held between the two frontrunners Raul Khajimba (23.85%) and Alkhas Kvitsinia (21.97%) in September.

Bzhania returned to Abkhazia in mid December following undertaking treatment in Moscow and Berlin, further strengthening opposition to challenge Khajimba’s rule. 

Elections in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and four other countries (Nauru, Venezuela, Syria and Nicaragua), which have recognized the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

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

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