Jun 27, 2011

Abkhazia: Nominations for Presidential Elections Now Open

Political parties can now nominate their presidential candidates for the elections in August which are expected to show the international community that Abkhazian democracy has matured. 

Below is an article published by the Voice of Russia:

On June 27 [2011], the political parties and groups of the republic of Abkhazia began to nominate their candidates for the early presidential elections set for August 26 [2011]. 

On May 31 [2011], the second Abkhazian president Sergey Bagapsh, died in a Moscow hospital following lung surgery at the age of 62.  Under the constitution, an early election should be held not later than 3 months after the termination of power of the previous president. Until the elections, Alexander Ankvab is the acting president of the republic.

Because the early elections were set under such tragic circumstances they are not expected to be sharply divisive. On the contrary – many expect that the elections will contribute to the unity of the Abkhazian nation.  The Abkhazian parliament has already stressed that the elections should be held in the atmosphere of mutual understanding and peace showing the global community that Abkhazia has become a civilized and democratic state.

Several political parties and associations such as the Communist and National parties, the “Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia” opposition bloc and the Party of Economic Development, have already nominated their candidates.   Though the ruling party United Abkhazia stated on June 17 [2011] that it would not nominate its candidate, some political analysts do not rule out candidates running from this party.

For example the current Prime Minister Sergey Shambu is regarded as a potential presidential candidate. It is likely that the acting president Alexander Ankvab and the former Vice President and the head of Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia Raul Hadzhimba, will also run for presidency. These three politicians are the most probable candidates, Larisa Svizhba, an assistant professor with the Chair of the Post-Soviet area at the Russian Humanitarian University says.

"In my opinion, Shamba is a more loyal candidate who can become the president at this stage, when a number of states have recognized Abkhazia’s independence. But probably someone else will emerge later.  So far, we do not see any intensive presidential race or the people, who have declared their intentions. The new president should be a politician who will follow the course Abkhazia chose in the last 20 years, developing as an independent republic which came through the war and the blockade. It is very important to maintain close relations with Russia, which is the first and biggest neighbor for Abkhazia. But the relations with Georgia are also on the agenda. Simply Georgia is not acting like a state, which wants to develop relations with its close neighbor peacefully."

According to the chairman of the Central Election Commission of Abkhazia Batal Tabagua, the technical issues of the coming elections have been settled. The commission is busy with the calendar plan and the list of voters. The results will be announced in three days, he said.

Regardless of the result of the vote the next Abkhazian president will have to deal not only with domestic social-political issues but to continue the foreign policy of his forerunner the main goal of which was the recognition of Abkhazia’s sovereignty by a larger number of states.