Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 22-28 August: Elections in Abkhazia

Election results in Abkhazia:
55% to Ankvab, sharp majority at first round, 21% to Sergey Shamba, 20% to Raul Khajimba. These results include the votes of Abkhazians who voted abroad, that is to say in Moscow and in Karachaevo-Circassia.

While few would have bet on the success of Khajimba, many would have had on Shamba. Khajimba was unsuccessful in Presidential Elections 2004 as well, while Shamba gained consensus as Minister of Foreign affaires. As such, he became known and – within the limits of the illegitimacy of his position – somehow popular among representatives of the international community for his moderation. Electoral outputs seem to reflect a sort of disappointment for his grey performance as Prime Minister, a position he covers from February 2010.

The vote puts an end to an electoral campaign which was assessed as competitive and fair, in line with the commitments the candidate agreed on at the end of July, upon the initiative of Khajimba. Still on the elections day, in Sukhumi a certain number of speznas were deployed, as a preventive measure. A pair of episodes unveiled what lies under the surface of fairness and order, rising up the less reassuring face of the “Republic”. Some supporters of Shamba organized an outdoor screening of a video interview with Tengiz Kitovani, in which Ankvab was accused to be a traitor who spied on behalf of Georgia militias during the war 1992-1994. The episode was followed by a close-door meeting which had the scope to prevent political confrontation from escalating, like it had happened in 2004, when Presidential results were close to cause an inner conflict. During the election campaign, Shamba occurred to have had a car accident, and some cast a shadow on this episode as well.

There's no recognition of the institutional role of Ankvab by the international community and by Tbilisi, where elections in Abkhazia are obviously considered illegitimate. It is interesting, on the other hand, to give the floor to the newly-elected President on his relationship with the State of Georgia, and the negotiations that affect them, as he himself described them in the interview “Abkhazia needs German order and billions of roubles” (http://top.rbc.ru/politics/29/06/2011/603052.shtml).: "I will not tie our relations with Georgia to the fact that Mikhail Saakashvili may or may not step down from Presidency. What is important is the policy that the State will express. We are even now ready to sign with Georgia a peace, a non use force agreement. This is our main task, to live in peace, in a good neighborhood. We don’t have aggressive plans and we are committed to somehow ensure a safe and normal life to our citizens, first of all to those who live in the border district of Gali. [...] What contacts do we have with Georgia? Our team had just returned from the Geneva session, and I'm not here to say that we have moved in some direction, but there is a dialogue. Geneva is important for us, because it is the square from which we turn to the outside world. It might be an ineffective way out, but it's a place where we can express our opinions. "

Full Article, "Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso", http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/aree/Abkhazia/Un-nuovo-presidente-per-l-Abkhazia-101919

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