Khajimba’s Rival Loses Court Dispute over “Presidential Elections”

Alkhas Kvitsinia, leader of the main opposition party Amtsakhara, who ran for Abkhaz “presidency,” has lost an appeal in the first instance board of the “Supreme Court” of the occupied region, in which he demanded annulment of the results of the September 8 “presidential runoffs”, according to which Raul Khajimba, incumbent leader of the region, was re-elected with 47.38% of votes against 46.19% of votes received by Kvitsinia.

The opposition leader accused the local election administration of violating the legislation, according to which a candidate who wins the majority vote is declared a winner of the presidential runoff on condition that the votes given to the first place winner are more than the votes given against.

The election legislation of Russia-occupied Abkhazia enables citizens to vote “against all.” Number of votes “against all” (3.76%) and number of votes in favor of Alkhas Kvitsinia (46.17%) totaled 49.93%, exceeding number of votes garnered by Khajimba.

The “Supreme Court” ruling has yet to be enforced. The court will initially send motivation letters to the parties within 10 days. After receiving the motivation letters, the parties will have a 20-day term to challenge the ruling in the “Supreme Court” board of cassation. If the court receives no appeal within this period, the September 20 ruling of the first instance board will enter into force.  

Russian news agency Sputnik has reported that Kvitsinia will make a decision on whether to challenge the ruling or not after the congress of opposition forces planned in Sokhumi in coming days.   

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Khajimba on his victory on September 10.

Attempts to reach an agreement

Tensions intensified in Abkhazia along with launching a dispute over “presidential elections” at the “Supreme Court” of the occupied region. Amid court deliberations, Kvitsinia’s supporters were gathering outside Amtsakhara’s headquarters and Khajimba’s supporters – outside the “presidential administration.”

The parties tried to negotiate to defuse tensions. According to Abkhaz media reports, during the September 17 meeting, Khajimba offered Kvitsinia deputy prime minister’s position in the future cabinet, but the latter rejected the offer.

In response, the opposition leader offered Khajimba to appoint Aslan Bzhania, the main opposition candidate, who had to withdraw from race due to his illness, as the “Prime Minister.”

Khajimba rejected the proposal. Bzhania, who continues treatment in Germany, ruled out any cooperation with Khajimba, saying that none of the candidates managed to garner enough votes. He accused Khajimba of trying “to illegally maintain power.”

Alexander Ankvab, Abkhaz lawmaker and former “president”, offered to hold repeat elections with Khajimba and Kvitsinia running as “presidential” and “vice presidential” candidates, respectively.

Khajimba did not approve this proposal either. Apsnypress news agency quoted him as saying on September 19 that “elections have been held, the winner has been declared and manipulations with the election results should be over.”

Sputnik news agency reported that after the “Supreme Court” ruling was announced on September 20, the supporters of Khajimba and Kvitsinia gathered in Sokhumi wrapped up their respective rallies.

Elections in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and four other countries (Nauru, Venezuela, Syria and Nicaragua), which have recognized the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

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