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Abkhazian president urges opposition to start negotiations to maintain stability

The press service of Abkhazian President Raul Khajimba said that the parliament's appeal for the president to step down "may aggravate the social and political situation" in the country
Abkhazian President Raul Khajimba Valery Matytsin/TASS
Abkhazian President Raul Khajimba
© Valery Matytsin/TASS

SUKHUM, January 9./TASS/. An appeal by the parliament of Abkhazia for the president step down may worsen the situation, the press service of President Raul Khajimba said on Thursday.

"Despite the stated goal — to avoid further destabilization — the appeal adopted by the parliament may aggravate the social and political situation and lead to irreversible consequences for the country," the statement said.

The press service said that the president was urging the opposition to start negotiations in order to maintain stability in the country.

"Representatives from the opposition have repeatedly said that they will wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the results of the election and act strictly within the legal framework. However, understanding the fact that their demands in court have no prospects, the opposition has decided to go ahead with radical methods," the press service noted.

Abkhazia’s opposition planned to hold a demonstration in Sukhum on Thursday in protest against last September’s presidential election. Originally, the protesters were going to demonstrate in front of the court building, where Abkhazia’s Supreme Court resumed hearings on a lawsuit filed by the opposition’s presidential candidate Alkhas Kvitsiani, from the Amtsakhara party, in protest against the ruling pronounced by a court of lower instance to declare the election valid.

In a separate development, another crowd of several hundred gathered in front of the presidential staff office. The protest concerned the arrest of a suspect in the November 2019 killing of three persons. The suspect is allegedly one of the Abkhazian president’s bodyguards. The rally’s organizer, Akhra Avidzba, is a relative of one of those killed. Later in the day opposition demonstrators moved to the building of the presidential staff office. The crowd put forward a demand for the resignation of President Raul Khajimba and forced their way into the building of the presidential staff.

After a session of Abkhazia’s Security Council, chaired by Khajimba, the president appealed to the citizens, urging them not to yield to provocations and to stay calm. He did not rule out, however, that a state of emergency could be declared in the country amid the developments in capital city Sukhum.

At the parliamentary session, Leonid Chamagua from the committee for education, science, language policy and media affairs, said a group of parliamentarians had delivered a request for the president to step down. The president rejected this, saying it was necessary to take measures to defuse the situation. After that, the Abkhazian parliament gathered for an emergency session.