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SUKHUM, August 24, 0:57 /ITAR-TASS/. Abkhazia will elect president on Sunday. Four candidates are competing for the position - General Aslan Bzhania of the State Security Service, former Interior Minister Leonid Dzapshba, incumbent Defence Minister Mirab Kishmaria, and opposition lawmaker Raul Khadzhimba.
On the eve of the elections, the candidates signed an agreement on measures for national unity and reforms of the political system.
The country’s 154 polling stations in 32 constituencies will open at 08:00 Moscow time and will be working through to 20:00. Abkhazia’s citizens in Russia will be able to vote in Moscow and Cherkessk. In Turkey, where the biggest Abkhaz community is living (over 1,000 people have Abkhaz passports), the citizens will be able to vote in Istanbul.
Up to 100 foreign observers from 24 countries will be monitoring the presidential elections. Officials from Russia’s Central Electoral Commission and parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union State, and the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly will monitor the elections.
Observers will also come from Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, San Marino, Ukraine, Germany, France, Finland, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. These are mainly political scientists, ombudsmen, international experts, leaders and members of parties, civil movements, public organisations, university rectors and professors, lawyers, and journalists.
The media, which will report the elections, include Russia’s ITAR-TASS, Rossiya Segodnya, Interfax, Russia Today TV, TEN TV, VGTRK, NTV, magazines Russian Planet, Elect, the Guild of Russian Photographers. Among foreign media will be Radio Svoboda, Paris Match (France) and independent reporters from Turkey, Poland, Ireland and Switzerland.
The early elections will be held following demonstrations in late May, which led to the resignation of then incumbent president Aleksandr Ankvab.