Former Abkhaz “prime minister” Leonid Lakerbaia has been elected to the occupied region’s legislature for a five-year term in the May 14 repeat vote in the town of Gudauta, local Apsnypress agency reported.
The Abkhaz election administration reported that Lakerbaia received 1,279 votes (55.05%) while his contender received 975 (41.97%). The total turnout was 62.89%, with 2,323 persons coming out to vote.
Lakerbaia and Tarkil, both previously contested the legislative seat in the first round of polls on March 12, with both failing to cross the 50% threshold. Lakerbaia then fell one vote short of clinching the victory.
The freshly-elected lawmaker is the chair of Aitaira, a party allied with “president” Aslan Bzhania’s administration.
Lakerbaia from 2011 to 2014 served as the “prime minister” under the leadership of Alexander Ankvab, who now holds the post of the “pm” in the Bzahnia administration.
A veteran of Abkhaz politics, Lakerbaia has in the past also served as Abkhaz deputy “prime minister” in 1992-1995, as the chief diplomat in 1995-1996, and as a lawmaker in 1998-2002.
As things stand, following Lakerbaia’s election, only one empty seat remains at the new Abkhaz legislature, set to be filled in a repeat vote on May 28.
In the new legislature, which convened on April 12, the Bzhania administration is said to have at least 25 loyal deputies, an unusual make-up for the Abkhaz legislature where independent majoritarians have traditionally trumped political parties.
This would mean supporters of Bzhania can easily pass laws, including the constitutional amendments that require 24 votes.
NB: This article was updated at 16:43, May 17, with final results reported by the Abkhaz authorities.