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SUKHUM, June 01, /ITAR-TASS/. Abkhazia’s President Alexander Ankvab has tendered his resignation. Valery Bganba will be Abkhazia's acting president.
“For considerations of preserving stability in the country, I am tendering my resignation as Abkhazian President, in line with article 65 of the country’s constitution,” Ankvab said in his address to the people on Sunday. “I call on people to keep calm, to preserve civil peace and to hold the new elections in a normal atmosphere."
According to Ankvab, the consequences of what is now going on in Abkhazia might be ruinous for the country.
“On May 27, the opposition organized a rally, which ended in the seizure of the buildings of the presidential administration, the government and the state television. These building are being held until now. The authorities tried to negotiate with the opposition led by the coordinating council. But these negotiations have yielded no compromise solutions. I and my colleagues understood and understand it now that our opponents do not want to reach accord in the interests of stability. They have utterly opposite goals,” Ankvad stressed.
He noted as a head of state, “who bears the entire responsibility for the fate of the people, as a legally elected president, whom, it would not be an exaggeration, citizens entrusted their lives, the lives of their children,” he saw it as his major task “to preserve civil peace and to prevent bloodshed.”
“And in the current situation, such risks are very high - power is contested by forces that stop at nothing to achieve their goals that are ready to sacrifice the lives of their fellow countrymen and the key achievement of our people - Abkhazia’s freedom - to their ambitions. No post, including that of the president, is a goal in itself for Alexander Ankvab. If it were the other way, I might have acted as my opponents are doing now,” he said.
“The opposition’s goals have been evident from the very first days,” he noted. “But it is only a tip of the iceberg. This is not about reforms. Their real interests and appetites would only grow. These appetites are indicative of something much worse: a danger for the Abkhazian state. The struggle for power might easily lead to the loss of something very sacred for us - Abkhazia might simply cease to exist.”
He said he was confident that “forces that actively support the opposition, both spiritually and materially, are behind the attempts on the president’s live” and that “one of the tasks of the state coup is to release terrorists charged with such attempts.” “It is known that physical extermination of Ankvab was a task during the seizure of the presidential administration’s building,” Ankvab said, referring to himself in the third person.
He said he had not fled Abkhazia over the past days, he had had talks with lawmakers, the government and activists. “It was not an easy task for me to persuade my supporters, voters, people, who are far from politics, to resist high emotions in order to avoid clashes. People are indignant at blatant violations of the constitution, norms of morality, at the aggressiveness of the opposition, at the dances near the presidential administration as though to celebrate the victory of own people.” Ankvab said.
The issue of security guarantees to Ankvab will be in the competence of the country’s parliament, leader of the Abkhazian opposition, member of the national parliament Raul Khadzhimba said. “I strongly believe that security guarantees should be offered,” he said. “But this is the issue to be talked over in parliament, we shall decide on all issues we are facing depending on the situation".
Khadzhimba said on Sunday that in line with the country’s constitution the government should resign after the president stepped down. “The issue of the head of government may be settled already tomorrow,” he said commenting on reports that Abkhazian Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya was not going to resign.
Abkhazia’s Provisional People’s Council that was set up by the opposition on May 28 “has fulfilled its task and is off from the political scene,” Khadzhimba, who headed the Council, said. “Following yesterday’s (May 31) resolution of the Abkhazian parliament and further actions, the situation has been brought back to the constitutional plane,” he told the Abkhazian television, adding he hoped further developments would keep within the “constitutional plane” too.
As for a new government of the republic, he said it was within the competences of parliament speaker Valery Bganba who would act as president of Abkhazia over the next three months. “The candidature of an acting prime minister will be nominated within several days, and as concerns the cabinet, I don’t think it expedient to make any reshuffles, since it wouldn’t be right to deat with such things in a tiny span of time we have before the elections [i.e. till Auguts 24], Khadzhimba said, adding he did not plan to seek a post in a new government preferring to continue as a lawmaker. When asked whether he planned to run for president at the early elections, he said, “Time will show.