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Expert: Abkhazia referendum outcome - victory of incumbent president

July 11, 10:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"From the outset, the Abkhaz opposition, insisting on a referendum, did not to calculate all the possible consequences", Director of the Center for Current Politics Alexei Chesnakov said
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© Artur Lebedev/TASS

MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. The results of the referendum held in Abkhazia on Sunday with the voter turnout just over one percent, confirm the victory of the country’s incumbent president Raul Khajimba, Director of the Center for Current Politics Alexei Chesnakov said on Monday.

"From the outset, the Abkhaz opposition, insisting on a referendum, did not to calculate all the possible consequences. This has led to a whole chain of its errors. When they realized that they are losing, the oppositionists provoked disorders, and the situation became catastrophic for them. The voters, witnessing such a dangerous game obviously did not want to support it," he said.

Thus, in his opinion, the referendum that was declared invalid "can be considered a victory for the incumbent president."

"The Abkhazian referendum failure has been mostly welcomed in Russia, as it was increasing the risk of a protracted confrontation between the government and the opposition, was artificially radicalizing the political agenda, diverting attention from the settlement of the country’s real social and economic problems. That is why at the beginning of the conflict, Russian officials expressed support for the current authorities, called for the preservation of stability in Abkhazia," the expert said.

One question: ‘Do you consider it necessary to hold early presidential elections in the Republic of Abkhazia?" was put on the Abkhazian referendum held on July 10. The republic’s Central Election Commission said that the voter turnout was 1.23%, or 1628 people, 46.07%, or 750 people vote for early presidential elections, and 46.74%, or 761 people, were against. A total of 117 ballots were recognized invalid. A total of 132,887 people were included in the voting lists.

The referendum was held in conformity with the decree of Abkhazian President Raul Khajimba who was elected to that post on August 24, 2014. His predecessor, Alexander Ankvab, was forced to resign after a mass opposition rally on May 27, 2014 which was led by the incumbent president. Some time later, Khajimba came under criticism from his opponents who accuse him of inability to improve the situation in the republic and take it out of the current profound crisis. Apart from that they said Khajimba had come to power in a state coup.

Five days ahead of the voting, on July 5, Abkhazia’s opposition party Amtsakhara passed a resolution at its extraordinary congress demanding postponement of the referendum on early presidential elections from July 10 to autumn and resignation of Abkhazian Interior Minister Leonid Dzapshba over the deterioration of the crime situation and actions aimed at violating people’s constitutional rights. The president suspended the minister until the prosecutor’s check is over.

On Saturday, the bloc of opposition force that initiated the referendum called on people not to take part in the voting demanding it be postponed till autumn.

"The authorities frustrated the referendum already before the voting day. That is why on Saturday, July 9, we called on people not to take part in the voting," Aslan Bzhaniya, the leader of the Apra fund and a co-leader of Abkhazia’s Bloc of Opposition Forces, told TASS. "The referendum was necessary and useful in conditions of political crisis" but the authorities "have failed to create conditions for free expression of will of the people." He said the opposition will decide about its further actions at an extended political council meeting next week.

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