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Presidential election begins in South Ossetia

April 09, 8:45 UTC+3 TSKHINVAL

Three people are running for presidency - incumbent President Leonid Tibilov, parliament speaker Anatoly Bibilov and employee of the State Security Committee Alan Gagloev

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TSKHINVAL, April 9. /TASS/. Voting at South Ossetia’s presidential election and referendum began at 77 polling stations on Sunday.

The polling stations opened at 8am local time (coincides with Moscow Time) and will close at 8pm. A total of 72 polling stations will be working in the republic and five outside it. South Ossetia’s Embassies in Moscow and Sukhum will have one polling station each, two others will open in Vladikavkaz, the capital city of Russia’s Republic of North Ossetia, and still other - in the suburban area of North Ossetia.

Three people are running for presidency - incumbent President Leonid Tibilov, his opponent representing the opposition, parliament speaker and leader of the United Ossetia political party Anatoly Bibilov and employee of the State Security Committee Alan Gagloev who earlier kept a low profile in politics.

The presidential election will be valid once the number of supporters of one of the candidates surpasses the mark of 50% of registered voters. The candidate who will secure more than a half of the votes will be the winner. "If none of the candidates is able to do that, the second round of voting will be announced," said Bella Plieva, head of the republican Central Election Commission. About 32,700 people aged 18 and older are expected to take part in the voting.

Citizens of the republic also will be offered to answer whether they agree with renaming the country to the Republic of South Ossetia - the State of Alania. The plebiscite will be valid, if more than half of the citizens eligible for voting take part in it. A decision will be taken, if more than half of the voters coming to the polling stations vote for it.

South Ossetia’s Central Election Commission informed TASS that the first preliminary results could be announced on April 9 already. "I believe we will be able to announce them by 11pm or by midnight," Bella Plieva said.

Meanwhile, a source in the country’s government agencies told TASS "the second round of the voting, if it is required, could take place on April 23."

South Ossetia held first presidential election in 1996.

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