At least 26 seats in breakaway Abkhazia’s 35-member Parliament will go to independent candidates - those nominated by "initiative groups" and not by political parties, as a result of two rounds of elections held on March 10 and March 24.
20 seats were up for grabs in a second round of voting on March 24 in twenty single-mandate constituencies 15 of which were won by independent candidates, Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported on Sunday.
11 out of 13 candidates, who managed to gain an outright victory in the first round on March 10 were independent candidates.
Repeat elections will be held in one single-mandate constituency – capital Sokhumi’s number one district – on May 6 because on March 10 voter turnout there was less than 25%, which is a minimum required for the vote to be valid. Results of the first round in another constituency remain still disputed, pending court’s decision.
Only five out of 21 incumbent lawmakers, running in the elections, managed to retain their parliamentary seats.
Out of 20 seats, contested in the second round, opposition Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia (FNUA) won three and it will have four members in the legislative body after its leader Raul Khajimba gained an outright victory in the first round two weeks ago.
United Abkhazia, party which backs Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab, won two seats in the second round; one candidate of the party won a parliamentary seat in the first round.
Total of 148 candidates were running for seats in the Parliament; only 34 of them were nominated by political parties – United Abkhazia, FNUA and Communist Party, and others were independent candidates nominated by initiative groups.
According to the breakaway region’s 1999 constitution, Abkhazia is a presidential republic; its 35-member parliament can initiate legislation and submit it to the president for approval, and the executive can submit his own legislation. Parliamentary approval requires an absolute majority – 18 votes.
Elections in the breakaway region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and few other countries, which have recognized Abkhazia and Georgia’s another breakaway region of South Ossetia.