Jan 22, 2007

Abkhazia: Aim for a Multiethnic Parliament

With upcoming elections in March, officials try to ensure candidates from all ethnicities will make the election ballot.

Below is an article published by Caucaz Europe News:

Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh said that there is “a gentleman’s agreement” between the political forces in Abkhazia which will help to elect “multiethnic parliament” during the upcoming elections on March 4.

“Officially there are no quotas allocated for certain ethnic groups in the Abkhaz Parliament; but there is understanding, there is agreement at least for time being and we will not let this [agreement] to be violated. An essence of this agreement is simple: let’s say an ethnic Russian candidate is nominated in one of the [single-mandate] constituencies; several other candidates can also be nominated in the same constituency including by the opposition parties, but let them [other candidates] also be ethnic Russians,” Bagapsh said in an interview to the Russian news agency Regnum published on January 19.

He also said that Abkhazia’s independence agenda will dominate during the election campaign, like it was during the previous elections in the unrecognized republic.

“Everyone running for the seats in the Parliament should understand that they are going to the legislative body for this purpose,” Bagapsh said.

Georgian daily 24 Saati (24 Hours) wrote on January 19 that no major tensions are anticipated between the Abkhaz political forces on the eve of the parliamentary elections.

Political groups backing the Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh, involving Amtsakhara, Aitaira (Revival) and United Abkhazia will be challenged during the elections by an opposition Forum of Abkhaz People’s Unity, uniting supports of Vice-President Raul Khajimba and former Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba. Khajimba was Bagapsh rival in 2004 presidential elections and came into power as a result of power-sharing agreement with Bagapsh.

Newly set up party Russian Citizens Union will also be running in the elections. This party will try to benefit from the votes of ethnic Russians and Armenians, according to the 24 Saati.

Inal Khashig, an editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper in Abkhazia Chegemskaya Pravda, told the 24 Saati, that the opposition forces have little chances to succeed in the upcoming elections.

“Although there is certain disappointment among the society over the authorities’ performance, the opposition will hardly benefit from it… No one wants return of past,” Khashig told the Georgian newspaper.