No Breakthrough in Abkhaz Crisis

Civil Georgia / 2004-11-26 15:34:23

Wednesday 1 December 2004

The situation in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia still remains tense and obscure. Both presidential candidates are holding strong to their positions regarding the results of October 3 election. Sergey Bagapsh, the opposition candidate, asserts that the election results, which gave him a clear victory in the race, are valid and is planning an inauguration ceremony for December 6. However, Raul Khajimba, who is supported by the Kremlin and the republic’s outgoing President, claims that the election was flawed and that a republic-wide revote must occur, as was decreed by the President of the breakaway republic.

Meanwhile, de facto President of the region Vladislav Ardzinba issued a statement on November 24 claiming that he would not step down as President, even if opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh follows through with his plans to be inaugurated President of the breakaway republic on December 6.

“The only way out of the current crisis is holding of repeat presidential elections in Abkhazia,” Apsnypress quotes Ardzinba as saying.

The de facto President compares the current situation in Abkhazia with the recent developments in Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine, where the opposition peacefully ousted the authorities.

The Parliament of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia adopted a law on November 25 regarding the first President of Abkhazia, which grants immunity to Ardzinba and his family and guarantees his material and social welfare.

On November 23 Apsnypress reported quoting Chairman of the Council of Elders Pavel Adzinba, that the Council, which is a public organization and cannot influence the results of an elections, has recognized the victory of opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh in the October 3 presidential elections.

“The candidate who won the elections must become the President of Abkhazia, while the candidate who also gained many votes should work in the President’s team,” Pavel Adzinba added.

On November 21, Abkhaz pro-governmental presidential contender Raul Khajimba declined the chance to become the unrecognized republic’s Prime Minister in opposition presidential candidate Sergey Bagapsh’s government.

“I was offered to take over the position of Prime Minister or Vice-President. But I have already been Prime Minister,” Raul Khajimba said at a news briefing in Abkhaz capital Sokhumi.

Khajimba also warned that Bagapsh’s decision to hold his presidential inauguration on December 6, “will further strain the aggravated situation in Abkhazia.”

Meanwhile, the opposition still controls governmental offices in Sokhumi, while Khajimba’s supporters have captured the state television building. Abkhaz de facto Prime Minister Nodar Khashba has already called on both presidential rivals to vacate the buildings.

“If case of non-fulfillment of this requirement, both Bagapsh and Khajimba will be responsible for further developments in Abkhazia,” Khashba said.

The de facto Prime Minister denied reports over the possible resignation of the government, saying that “we [the government] will not step down, since today only the government can suspend the crisis. When we see that nothing depends on the government, we will leave,” Khashba added.

Khashba left Abkhazia for Moscow on November 25, in order to hold consultations with Russian officials over the recent developments in the breakaway region, according to the Regnum news agency.

Earlier on November 23, Russian media reported that the Governor of Russia’s Krasnodar district, Alexander Tkachov, threatened to close the border with Abkhazia if “the Abkhaz people do not change their mind and still recognize Bagapsh as President-elect.” Tkachov even threatened to cease granting pensions to the Abkhaz population, reminding them that it is Russia who provides pensions to them.

Abkhaz opposition leader Sergey Bagapsh slammed the allegations made by Alexander Tkachov and called them “blackmail and political provocation.”

The pro-governmental presidential candidate Raul Khajimba said that Tkachov’s statement “reflects the position of the Russian leadership. However, this is not a surprise, since during our visit to Moscow, the Russian side hinted at similar moves,” Regnum quotes Khajimba as saying on November 24.

On the backdrip of the aggravation of the situation in breakaway Abkhazia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on November 23 that the authorities are waiting for a particular moment to restore the country’s territorial integrity.

“We are closely watching the developments in Abkhazia. The time will come when we should settle the conflict in breakaway Abkhazia,” Saakashvili said in an interview with Georgian television stations.

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