Abkhazia in wait for a new tandem19.07.2011 | 18:01
Candidates for the post of Abkhaz president have been finally defined. These are Sergey Shamba in tandem with Shamil Adzinba running for vice-presidency, Alexander Ankvab plus Mikhail Logua and Raul Hajimba plus Svetlana Jergenia. Monitors view all these alliances as quite unexpected to monitors. GeorgiaTimes correspondent asked Yuri Shevtsov, a well-known Belarussian politologist, to comment on the starting election campaign.
This presidential race in Abkhazia will be totally different from the elections of two years ago. In 2009 the opposition was divided in three camps. Now the government is split in two. Alexander Ankvab, interim president, and Sergey Shamba, current prime minister, represent different teams. This divorce inside the ruling team plays into the hands of Raul Hajimba, a leader of the opposition that acts as a united front during this campaign and even hopes to win under the circumstances.
The most curious figures are candidates for vice-presidency. On the whole, a vice president in Abkhazia is a minister without a portfolio. Under law his powers are limited "to execution of specific tasks assigned by the president". And only the president decides whether his VP will have wide and important powers like Ankvab had over the past year and a half with Bagapsh, or the president will bring him down to sitting in an old-fashioned office like in case with Hajimba as Bagapsh's vice president.
The vice president is doing most of his work now - at the time of elections. He is that very "horse" that must take the president to his seat. That is why selecting a candidate for vice-presidency is a delicate and complicated task.
Sergey Shamba has Shamil Adzinba, deputy chair of the State Committee for Youth Affairs and Sports, in his tandem. Adzinba was born in Ajaria, where a small Abkhaz community lives. Thus, we can make the first conclusion of Sergey Shamba's "messages". He plans to get hold of repatriate votes. Yet, there are not many of them in Abkhazia giving one or two thousand of potential voters to current prime minister. Yet, the activities of Adzinba as chair of the Committee for Youth Affairs and Sports at the president of Abkhazia might help Shamba attract many thousands of young votes. Young people adore Shamil Adzinba. He is a well-known organizer of all kinds of meetings, mountain tours, trips. His opinion is weighty among the young, besides he is a very sociable person. Anyway he will find right words to convince young girls and boys that Shamba must be voted for.
There is Mikhail Logua, head of the administration of Gulripsh district of Abkhazia, campaigning for Alexander Ankvab. Gulripsh district is one of the largest in Abkhazia whose population almost entirely lives on the sea coast. This is one big suburb of the capital of Abkhazia.
The fact that a candidate is in tandem with a head of the regional administration shows that the administrative resource regional leaders inevitably have, will be divided between two candidates from government.
Logua represents a young generation of Abkhaz officials. This is a yet small group of managers whose mentality and competence level are strongly better than the mindset of Soviet "obkom" members who unfortunately prevail in the Abkhaz nomenclature. Logua was the first to develop and publish a strategy of the social and economic development of his region fostering investment projects and not begging money from the capital. Today his district looks much better than the neighboring Ochamchir, still in ruins.
Logua running for vice-president is not a coincidence. Evidently, Ankvab plans to "kill several birds". Firstly, Logua is a man of untarnished reputation. Secondly, the district he is in charge with is dominated by Armenian population whose votes will be fought for. Logua is respected at home, and naturally he had good connections that will help the tandem succeed.
Raul Hajimba chose Svetlana Jergenia as his vice-president. She is Vladislav Ardzinba's widow. This is a cult figure whose choice demonstrates that the opposition sticks to traditions of political succession from the time of the founder of the Abkhaz state - Ardzinba. No doubt Jergenia is beyond criticism or discussion. Yet, unlike other candidates for vice-president of the rivals, it is hard to say what part of the electorate she can hook. The point is that traditional supporters of opposition are particularly focused on symbols of independence, patriotism and victory in the war. But this part of the population will anyway vote for the opposition no matter if Jergenia will become VP or not. That means that if Adzinba's presence in Shamba's tandem will help the latter get votes of the youth, it is really difficult to single out such a large group for Jergenia.
Sergey Shamba and Alexander Ankvab are looking to the future. Both of them as Nadezhda Venediktova, a well-known Abkhaz writer said, "have picked clever males out of the crowd". Both Adzinba and Logua are likely to succeed current leaders of the republic and become the new elite Abkhazia looks for.
Yuri Shevtsov, a politologist, answers GeorgiaTimes questions on the political situation in Abkhazia.