23 Mar 2020 09:21

Bzhania wins repeat presidential election in Abkhazia - CEC

SUKHUM. March 23 (Interfax) - Leader of Abkhazia's opposition and MP Aslan Bzhania won the March 22 repeat presidential election in the republic, receiving a little more than 56% of the vote, a spokesperson for Abkhazia's Central Elections Commission (CEC) told Interfax.

Former Economy Minister Adgur Ardzinba is in second place with 35.40% of the vote, and former Interior Minister Leonid Dzyapshba is in third place with slightly more than 2% of the vote.

"These are the results of the repeat presidential election after all ballots have been counted," the spokesperson said.

Abkhazia already held a presidential election in 2019. The local CEC declared then incumbent President Raul Khadjimba the winner in the second round of the presidential election - an outcome that was challenged by Khajimba's main rival, Amtsakhara (Ancestral Lights) party leader Alkhas Kvitsinia, who filed a lawsuit with Abkhazia's Supreme Court. Kvitsinia refused to recognize the official election results, announced by the CEC, and said that the ballots "against all candidates" had not been included in the count.

The opposition launched protests outside the Abkhaz presidential administration headquarters immediately after the New Year holidays, on January 9, prompting Khajimba to leave the administration building and move to the president's state villa in Sukhum. After that, demonstrators seized the presidential administration headquarters and demanded a new presidential election in the republic.

Amid those protests, the Supreme Court's cassation board invalidated the CEC decision on Khajimba's victory and annulled the results of the second round.

On January 12, Khajimba resigned as Abkhazia's president and the CEC set a repeat presidential election for March 22.