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Abkhaz ‘Government Head’ Becomes ‘Acting President’

Valery Bganba, head of the “cabinet of ministers” of Moscow-backed Abkhazia, will serve as the region’s “acting president,” replacing Raul Khajimba, who resigned yesterday.

Local media reported on January 13 that the region’s 35-member “parliament” voted in favor of Khajimba’s resignation and Bganba’s appointment as acting “president” at today’s extraordinary session.

Ahead of Khajimba’s resignation on January 12, Abkhaz “election administration” announced repeat “presidential polls” would take place on March 22.

The announcement came two days after “the appeals chamber” of the “Supreme Court” ruled late on Friday that the results of the region’s September 8 ‘’presidential runoff” were invalid.

A day earlier on January 9, amid ongoing political tensions in region’s capital city of Sokhumi, Abkhaz “parliament” appealed to Khajimba to resign. However, the latter refused to resign, noting it would further complicate existing socio-political situation.

The appeal came as hundreds stormed Abkhaz leader’s office on Thursday, demanding new “presidential polls” and Khajimba’s resignation, which Khajimba’s administration dubbed as an attempted coup.

Meanwhile, Russian officials intervened to break Abkhazia deadlock. Rashid Nurgaliyev, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, arrived in the occupied region and held meetings with Khajimba on Friday and Saturday, as well as mediated Abkhaz leader’s Sunday afternoon meeting with opposition’s Aslan Bzhania and Alkhas Kvitsinia.

Yesterday evening, ahead of Khajimba’s resignation, Russian media reported that Russian President’s aide Vladislav Surkov arrived in Abkhazia.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin appointed Vladislav Surkov as his aide to oversee Moscow’s relations with occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia in September, 2013.

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.

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