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3 or 4 candidates likely to participate in Abkhazia's early presidential election

June 04, 2014, 19:39 UTC+3 SUKHUM
The early presidential elections scheduled for August 24
1 pages in this article
© ITAR-TASS/Artur Lebedev

SUKHUM, June 04. /ITAR-TASS/. None of the potential candidates in Abkhazia's early presidential election has stated their intention to run for the republic's top executive post, but experts expect rivalry between three or four hopefuls.

There is no doubt though that chairman of the National Unity Forum opposition party, lawmaker Raul Khadzhimba is one of them.

"It is difficult to predict who will be next Abkhazian president," former secretary of Abkhazia's Security Council, historian Stanislav Lakoba said.

He told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday that 80 days before the election, nobody had yet announced plans to run for president.

This tactic is quite logical though. On Tuesday, head of Abkhazia's Central Election Commission Batal Tabagua told ITAR-TASS that the support groups and political parties that nominated presidential candidates would be registered from June 25 through July 14.

Among the potential candidates, Lakoba named Raul Khadzhimba, leader of Abkhazia People's Party Yakub Lakoba and chairman of the Party of Abkhazia's Economic Development Beslan Butba.

"There might be other persons who have not been involved in Abkhazia's politics recently, but now might come back," the expert said.

Lakoba said "nobody can conceive Abkhazia's future without Russia," yet he made it clear that the decisions concerning further integration should not be made secretly, without people's participation. Also, he believes that Abkhazia should retain a certain degree of sovereignty.

As for lifting the ban on purchasing property in Abkhazia, Lakoba did not rule out that such a decision might be made by the administration of the new president. "I believe it is possible because this will make current transactions transparent," he said.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Abkhazian President Alexander Ankvab are continuing consultations over their candidate in the August election.

"As for candidates for the post of head of state, I'll talk about my supporters; I don't want to talk about the opponents," former Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya told ITAR-TASS.

"I won't show my hand, but there are several candidates, and a single candidate is possible from the political forces that became the opposition after Ankvab's resignation," the ex premier said.

He noted that he saw no threats to Russian-Abkhazian relations from the recent events in the republic. "I don't see a threat, but a serious loss of Abkhazia's image because of these events," Lakerbaya said.

Lakerbaya urged caution regarding the promises of Abkhazia's involvement in post-Soviet integration. Such promises are also made by supporters of the new authorities, he said.

"It requires the recognition of Abkhazia by Belarus and Kazakhstan. This has not happened yet, nor is it going to happen any time soon, though I would like to err on this account. These are distracting moves in rhetoric," Lakerbaya said.

Leader of People's Unity Forum Raul Khadzimba told ITAR-TASS that he had not yet decided to run for president. "We have enough young politicians hard on our heels," he said.

Khadzhimba said he supported stronger ties with Russia. "In parliament, I called for speeding up integration processes," he said. "I spoke about the necessity and possibility to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, although we understand that it is not that easy, because in order to make it happen, the other participants should recognize us first."

"Russia is handling Abkhazia's security issues today," Khadzimba went on. "We talk about the need to cooperate in defense and border protection issues. I have no doubt that this policy will continue regardless of who comes to power after the election."

He noted the importance of Russia's financial support.

Inal Khashig, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Chegem Pravda, said "everything depends on whether different political groups would be able to forge an accord."

"There is no clear first-round winner, and it depends on several factors," Khashig told Tass. "Raul Khadzhimba might be leader of the race. But his position can be strong if the disunited opposition, allegedly consolidated in the Coordinating Council of Political parties and Public Organization with their numerous leaders, agrees that he is a single candidate.

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