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Abkhaz CEC Says Polls Valid
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Dec.'09 / 21:30

Breakaway Abkhazia’s central election commission (CEC) declared presidential election in the region valid saying that more than half of voters have cast ballot in Saturday’s polls.

Over 64% of voters turned out at polling stations by 7:30pm local time, half an hour before the polling stations were closed, an official Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress reported.

Incumbent Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh’s bid for re-election is challenged by four other candidates  - Raul Khajimba, former vice-president of the breakaway region; a businessman and a former lawmaker Beslan Butba, who is leader of Party of Economic Development; head of state-owned Abkhaz Shipping Company Zaur Ardzinba and a scholar Vitaly Bganba.

Khajimba, Butba and Ardzinba complained about electoral violations in Gagra, Gudauta and Gali districts, claiming that additional voter lists were inflated.

“Large number of violations may serve as detonator of tensions,” Raul Khajimba said.

A bitterly contested presidential election between Bagapsh and Khajimba grew into a political crisis in Abkhazia five years ago, which ended with power-sharing deal between the two men with Khajimba taking vice-presidential post.

Authorities in Tbilisi said election in breakaway Abkhazia was “immoral comedy” stage by the occupying force – Russia.

But the Georgian officials also say that Tbilisi is watching developments in Abkhazia.

“We are not indifferent towards developments in Abkhazia and we are not indifferent towards the matter of who will be those people from that side with whom we will have to talk on resolving some local issues related to wellbeing of the population,” Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, said.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 12 that “the occupant regime… in Abkhazia, is putting up another show titled ‘presidential elections.’” It also said that in this “farce” a candidate “selected by Moscow long ago, will be announced ‘president’ of the proxy regime.”

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