21 May 2019 18:15

Abkhaz president accuses opposition of attempting to overthrow govt

SUKHUM. May 21 (Interfax) - Abkhaz President Raul Khadjimba has described the opposition protests as attempts to overthrow the government and destabilize the situation in the country.

"The opposition's actions exacerbate the socio-politic situation. The facts we have observed over the past few days testify to attempts to seize power, despite the opposition leaders' explaining them by democratic aspirations," Khadjimba said in his address to Abkhaz citizens on Tuesday.

"In recent days, we have witnessed destructive actions of the opposition forces, which under an apparently seemly excuse of care about the health of parliamentary member Aslan Bzhania and his participation in the upcoming presidential election, in reality exposed the point of their main actions: the early resignation of the president," he said.

Leader of the Nationwide Movement to Defend the Statehood of Abkhazia Teimuraz Khishba declared the start of an indefinite "act of civil disobedience" on Monday evening after the Abkhaz parliament failed to meet their demand to postpone the presidential election to this fall. He additionally said that the opposition demands that Abkhaz President Raul Khadjimba resign.

Opposition supporters in Sukhum began a rally on Monday demanding that the Abkhaz presidential election, slated for July 21, be postponed. This occurred after the opposition leaders called for the support to the initiative of the Nationwide Movement to Defend the Statehood of Abkhazia to postpone the presidential election to the fall due to the poisoning of its leader Aslan Bzhania. The opposition said that the presidential candidate Bzhania "was poisoned to prevent his participation in the presidential election."

Khadjimba said in his address that the Abkhaz authorities were "paying close attention" to the health of Bzhania and his aides. The Abkhaz law enforcement authorities are conducting a thorough investigation of the case together with their Russian counterparts, he said.

"I have already reiterated [...] the importance of the peaceful conduct of the election within the period determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia," the president said.

However, "to achieve its goals, the opposition resorted to announcing an indefinite rally in front of the building of the parliament and to [holding] a number of illegal actions: closing the central motorway at the sectors in the populated localities of Bzyb and Tamysh, compulsory stopping of the operations of the trolley bus and bus fleet in the city of Sukhum, and other measures destabilizing the situation in the country," he said.

"And all of that is taking place at the beginning of the holiday season. Such exacerbation of tensions could, unfortunately, scare holidaymakers, whose arrival we attach significant importance to," Khadjimba said.

"The Abkhaz authorities are taking all necessary measures to maintain stability and peace in the country and prevent provocative actions capable of loosening constitutional foundations of the state," the president said.

In light of these events," the Abkhaz Security Council has been repeatedly convened to discuss reasonable ways to settle the current situation," he said.

The Abkhaz president called on the country's citizens "not to fall victim to provocations and exercise restraint and vigilance."

"I am confident that we will manage to maintain peace and tranquility in our country," Khadjimba said.