Breakaway Georgian region elects president
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Last Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011, 22:12
  
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.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011, 22:12


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