Breakaway Georgian region elects president

The vice president of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia has won the presidential election, authorities said.

Sukhumi: The vice president of the
breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia has won the
presidential election, authorities said on Saturday.

The Election Commission`s chairman Batal Tabagua told
reporters that preliminary figures showed Alexander Ankvab
taking 55 per cent of Friday`s vote.

The presidential election is the first in Abkhazia
sandwiched geographically between the Black Sea and the
Caucasus Mountains and caught politically between Russia and
Georgia since Moscow recognised its independence in 2008.

Russian recognition followed the 2008 Russia-Georgian
war, fought over another Georgian breakaway republic. Russia
has about 5,000 soldiers and border guards stationed in
Abkhazia, which Georgia calls occupation.

The vote was held three months after the death of
President Sergei Bagapsh, who cemented his nation`s
pro-Kremlin course backed by lavish financial aid from Moscow.

Ankvab, 59, was running against two other seasoned
politicians and veterans of the separatist war that Abkhazia
waged against the Georgian government in the early 1990s that
left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced. The former
Communist official and ex-head of Abkhazia`s police has
survived five assassination attempts, which he described as
the result of disputes with local criminals.

Prime Minister Sergei Shamba garnered 21 per cent of the
vote and opposition leader Raul Khadjimba won 20 per cent, the
election commission said.

Ankvab`s deputy, Nugzar Ashuba, told reporters that
Ankvab`s win is a victory for the whole country. "No one lost
yesterday but everybody won," he said.

Konstantin Kosachev, a senior lawmaker from the Russian
parliament on an observer mission in Abkhazia, hailed the
transparency of the vote. Georgian officials have dismissed
the election as illegitimate.

The 1991 Soviet collapse and the increasingly nationalist
policies of the Georgian government led to disagreements
between the central Georgian government and its autonomous
republics that exploded into a civil war.

Throughout the 1990s, Abkhazia`s tourism- and
agriculture-dependent economy went through a deep recession,
while hostilities with the Georgians continued.


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