Reports: Abkhaz CEC Declares Bagapsh President-Elect
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 11 Oct.'04 / 22:07
Civil Georgia

The Russian Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported that a majority of the 15-member Central Election Commission of the unrecognized Abkhaz Republic signed a protocol on October 11 declaring opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh the winner of the October 3 presidential elections. This decision adds confusion to the crisis, which has erupted in the breakaway region after the first-ever contested presidential elections, which are not internationally recognized.

“11 out of 15 members voted for this protocol,” Interfax reported on October 11, quoting a member of the CEC, Adleiba. He added that Bagapsh received 50.08% of the votes, which is enough to win the elections in the first round.

The CEC report does not specify the number of votes received by the pro-governmental candidate Raul Khajimba. RIA Novosti reported that the Chairman of the CEC, Sergey Smir, filed his resignation following the election commission’s decision, citing “huge pressure mounted against the CEC by the supporters of Sergey Bagapsh.”

The latest figures made public by CEC include results received from the predominately Georgian-populated Gali district. Earlier, on October 6 the Abkhaz CEC rendered the election results in all three precincts in the Gali district invalid, citing widespread ballot fraud. CEC scheduled a repeat vote for October 17. According to the election results, which did not include votes cast in Gali, the opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh garnered 45.7% of the votes while Raul Khajimba, whose candidacy is backed by both outgoing Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba and the Kremlin, garnered 38.4%.

Raul Khajimba challenged the CEC decision to hold re-vote only in Gali as unconstitutional and demanded repeat election in all of Abkhazia. The consequent appeal by Khajimba to the Supreme Court was scheduled to be heard on October 11, but was postponed until October 13. Meanwhile, Sergey Bagapsh also appealed the Supreme Court demanding the cancellation of the CEC’s decision over a Gali re-vote, as he denies any violations taking place there during the October 3 vote.

The Gali district is the easternmost part of unrecognized Abkhaz republic, populated mainly by ethnic Georgians who spontaneously returned to Abkhazia in the years following the conflict in 1992-93. Sergey Bagapsh has received most of the votes in Gali.

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