TSKHINVAL, November 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Runoff presidential elections will be held in the Caucasian republic of South Ossetia on Sunday. South Ossetians are to chose from the republic’s Emergencies Minister Anatoly Bibilov and former Minister of Education Alla Dzhioyeva, who won the first round of voting. This will be South Ossetia’s fourth presidential elections, and the first one after winning independence.
The president is elected for the term of five years. Under the republic’s constitution, a president may not occupy the office for more than two consecutive terms. Incumbent President Eduard Kokoity, elected to the post in 2001 and in 2006, have refused to change the constitution to run for a third term.
Under the constitution, the president is the head of state and the head of executive power. He is also the commander-in-chief of the republic’s armed forces. A candidate shall be at least 35 years of age and live in the republic for ten years.
To be elected president, a candidate should win more than a half of votes of those who took part in the balloting. To recognize the runoff voting as legitimate, participation of more than 30 percent of all eligible voters is needed. The threshold for the first round is higher – 50 percent. The overall number of eligible voters is about 50,000, including 32,700 residing in the republic.
The president elect is inaugurated ten day after the election results are officially announced. The republic’s Central Election Commission is to officially publish the voting results within a month after the voting day.
Anatoly Bibilov, who scored 24.86 percent of the vote in the first round, bases his program on the idea of consolidation of society and runs his campaign under the slogan on unity. “Before the elections, we enjoyed support of absolutely uncoordinated, disunited forces,” he said in an interview with Itar-Tass. “And now we see that political parties, which used to be in opposition to each other, are uniting around my program.”
The leader of the presidential race favors closer integration with Russia but stresses that it is too early to speak about unification. Bibilov was nominated by the ruling Unity party, a twin to Russia’s United Russia, and hence enjoys support from the latter. During a trip to Vladikavkaz earlier in the week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with Bibilov and described his as a “man known not merely in his own republic,” a “man who actively works with our people and take effort to solve complicated tasks.”
In the mean time, Alla Dzhioyeva, who won 24.8 percent of the vote in the first round of elections, told Itar-Tass that as a president she sought to “reform the entire political system in South Ossetia,” first of all to change the parliament election system from the majority election system to a proportional one. For these ends she suggests that the current parliament should be dissolved and a new one be elected early next year. Touching of prospects for South Ossetia’s unification with Russia, she said, “This is a rather complicated issue.”
“Our current goal is to consolidate the South Ossetian state, and time will show the rest,” she said and added that “the South Ossetian people’s long cherished dream is to unify with our brothers in North Ossetia.”
Both candidates call for more transparency in issues of using Russian aid and favor economic independence.
The first round of presidential vote was held in South Ossetia on November 13. Anatoly Bibilov and Alla Dzhioyeva finished with a narrow margin but dramatically outstripped other nine candidates. In the past two weeks the two candidates have toured the entire republic in a bid to win more votes. They also held televised debates.
However, they could not held the last round of debates on Friday, on the eve of the so-called “silence day” because the Ir TV company abruptly stopped broadcasting seconds before the air. Bibilov’s election headquarters claimed it was a provocation and placed responsibility on the republic’s communications committee.
On Sunday, South Ossetian voters are to make a final choice. The republic’s Central Elections Commission will announce first results around midnight. Preliminary results will be made public by 10:00 a.m. on Monday.