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Little Abkhazia’s grand election2009-10-08 17:53
Two months are left before the presidential election in Abkhazia. Recently the country's parliament set the voting day - December 12. How many candidates will run, what will the election race bring, what will the new political alignment in the country be and how will it change the situation in the region? GeorgiaTimes correspondent tried to find this all out.
The number of candidates for Abkhaz president is not known yet. But long before the date of the election was set the experts had been sure that main competitors would be Sergey Bagapsh who brought independence to the country and his ancient adversary ex vice PM Raul Khajimba (in May he resigned from his post of Vice Prime Minister). As well as chairman of the Economic Development Party Beslan Butba who is considered one of the country's richest men. He owns several hotels, restaurants, Abaza TV and Ekho Abkhazii newspaper.
No doubt new candidates may turn up. Analysts don't believe it impossible that Sergey Shamba in charge of the Foreign Ministry will also take part in the elections. But this information has not been confirmed yet. A lot will depend on inter-party alliances and tandems.
For instance, late in August Abkhaz Security Council secretary Stanislav Lakoba submitted resignation. Experts thought it was Lakoba's pre-election maneuver and he would also run for president. A short time after he contradicted rumors stating he wasn't going to run for president of Abkhazia at the presidential election in December.
Analysts believe he will act in tandem with other oppositionists who are angry with Bagapsh for the amendments to the law on citizenship he proposed. On July 31 the parliament approved of the amendments stipulating massive distribution of Abkhaz passports to Georgians in Gali district, most of them in favor of Bagapsh. Under pressure from the opposition the entry into force was postponed.
The opposition believes that amendments initiated by Bagapsh equal the number of Abkhaz and Georgian population of the republic. Besides those "who fought for Abkhazia's independence and who had promoted colonial interests of Georgia for many years" acquire equal rights.
The opposition is also against another proposal of the president: to allow Gali district residents to vote with both Abkhaz passports and the so-called interim form number 5. The opponents to the authorities state this might lead to falsification as one person can vote several times.
The experts are sure the citizenship issue will be among the key ones in the election race.
As for formalities, each voter will have his/her passport stamped in a special way. Though Bagapsh doesn't like the novelty Abkhaz parliament already adopted this amendment to the law on presidential election in the republic.
Some Russian newspapers suppose Moscow is preparing for a possible change of power in the republic. In August RBC Daily alleged that Moscow didn't mind changing horses in midstream. Why then did Vladimir Vladimirovich meet with the opposition on his visit to Sukhum?
Alexander Sobyanin, head of strategic planning service of the Near-Border Cooperation Association told the newspaper: "Generally speaking Putin made it clear that Russia was not going to lay all eggs in one basket and was ready to deal with the opposition that might come to power after presidential election in Abkhazia in December".
Remarkably, the Abkhaz opposition has long been struggling for benevolence of the Kremlin.