Voters in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia will go to polls on April 9, 2017 to elect their new leader, according to the decision adopted unanimously by the de facto South Ossetian parliament on January 17.
Incumbent South Ossetian leader Leonid Tibilov, the de facto president of the region since 2012, is set to run for his final five-year term.
Tibilov, the former head of KGB, the breakaway region’s security service, became South Ossetian leader as a result of two rounds of repeat elections in March, 2012 and April, 2012. Repeat elections were held after results of polls in November, 2011 in which opposition candidate Alla Jioyeva won, were annulled, followed by street protest rallies.
Parliamentary Chairman of the breakaway region Anatoly Bibilov is believed to be the incumbent president’s major contender. Bibilov, whose United Ossetia party holds 20 seats in a 34-member legislative assembly, ran against Alla Jioyeva in 2011 Presidential Elections, but decided not to participate in the March poll.
There are reports that Eduard Kokoity, the breakaway region’s president in 2001-2011, plans to run in the presidential elections as well.
Simultaneously with presidential polls, the breakaway South Ossetia might also hold a referendum on renaming the region to “South Ossetia – Alania”.
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 the region.