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Alexander Ankvab wins Abkhazian presidential election


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Alexander Ankvab wins Abkhazian presidential election

2011-08-27 22:52:41 GMT+7 (ICT)

SUKHUMI (BNO NEWS) -- Alexander Ankvab has been elected president of the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia after elections were held on Friday, according to results released on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people went to vote in the disputed region on Friday. The three main candidates were Acting President Alexander Ankvab, Prime Minister Sergei Shamba, and opposition leader Raul Khadzhimba.

Election officials on Saturday declared Ankvab the winner of the election after all votes were counted. Ankvab received 54.86 percent of the vote, while Shamba received 21.04 percent and Khadzhimba 19.83 percent. The turnout was reported to be 71.92 percent.

The elections were held after President Sergei Bagapsh died in the Russian capital of Moscow in late May as a result of lung cancer. Ankvab was appointed acting president as a result, and will soon begin a full term after being sworn in.

Abkhazia and another Georgian breakaway republic, South Ossetia, were recognized by Russia and several other countries as independent states in 2008 following a five-day war, which started when Georgia attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.

Friday's election and its result have been rejected by the Georgian government, NATO, and the European Union. "The Russian occupation forces and its proxy regime in Sokhumi (the Abkhazian capital) conducted another cynical act of the pseudo-democratic policy - the so-called 'presidential elections'," the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Georgia criticized Russia for sending election observers in an attempt to legitimize the outcome of the election. "It is unfortunate that many 'observers' visited Abkhazia without the prior knowledge of the situation on the ground or knowledge of being in violation of Georgian legislation," the Ministry said in its statement.

It added: "There is no justification for such mockery of the international law. No decision on the future of Abkhazia can be legitimate as long as approximately half a million displaced persons, 3/4 of the original population of the region are deprived of the right to participate in the decision-making."

European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton also rejected the vote. "In view of the reports today from Sukhumi in the breakaway region of Abkhazia in Georgia, that Mr. Alexander Ankvab has been elected as new president, this statement is to recall that the European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which these elections have taken place," she said.

Ashton said the European Union reiterates its support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia as recognized by international law. "The European Union would in this context like to emphasize the importance of the Geneva International Discussions in ensuring the security and stability in the region," she added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev immediately called Ankvab on Saturday to congratulate him on his "resounding victory," the Kremlin press office said. "Dmitry Medvedev wished Alexander Ankvab every success in his demanding post and expressed confidence that Abkhazia's development will continue successfully. The two leaders confirmed their commitment to further strengthening Russian-Abkhazian relations," the Kremlin said.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance does not recognize the elections. "The holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia," Rasmussen said. "The Alliance reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders."

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-27

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