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Bids begin for the Abkhaz presidency

With whom will the former president of Abkhazia side – and for what price?

Abkhazia is preparing for the second round of presidential elections which will be held on September 8.

In the first round, incumbent Raul Khajimba came in first place, but was followed very closely by leader of the Amtsakhara war veteran party, Alkhas Kvitsinia.  

The protégé of former Abkhaz president Aleksandr Ankvab, Oleg Arshba, missed his chance to make it into the second round by just 102 votes.  

However, while Arshba is out of the running, Ankvab remains in the game – whoever receives the support of the former president is sure to win.

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It is not yet known which of the two candidates who entered the second round will be supported by Ankvab, but it is already clear that he will be given the position of prime minister either way.  

Ankvab’s protégé received some 20,000 votes, most of which were cast by devoted supporters of Aleksandr Ankvab, and who will likely vote for whichever candidate the former president settles on.

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But the ex-president is not in a hurry to choose sides – because as time goes on, the stakes rise.

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At the beginning of the presidential company, Ankvab offered his services to the leader of Amtsakhara Alkhas Kvitsinia, however, the maximum that he could offer in return was the position of head of the presidential administration, which did not suit Ankvab.

In the end, everyone went their own way – Kvitsinia was nominated by the opposition forces bloc, and Ankvab declared the former deputy foreign minister Oleg Arshba his candidate in the presidential race.

The first round, which took place on August 25, is known to have ended with a slight advantage for Raul Khajimba – however given his status as the head of state, he scored a disastrously small percentage of the votes – just 25.

The runner-up Alkhas Kvitsinia scored 23% of the vote.

Arshba was just a half per cent behind Kvitsinia.

Ankvab himself chose the most passive reaction and has waited for offers to come in.

Members of Khajimba’s team came in and, as sources close to the matter say, offered Ankvab the premiership, in addition to control over the financial and economic sector, however the ex-president has not rushed to answer.

Sources say Kvitsinia’s team did not put forward a significant offer.

Had both Kvitisinia and Khajimba put forward equal proposals, Ankvab would likely have gone with Kvitisinia – after all, Amtsakhara and its leader were the stronghold of Alexander Zolotinskovich during his presidency, and after that they drew together as an opposition bloc, exactly when Khajimba in 2014 contributed to the early resignation of Aleksander Ankvab.

But, as the unforgettable Lord Palmerston said, “there are neither eternal allies, nor permanent enemies, but our interests are permanent and eternal.”

Interests are not only the return of Alexander Ankvab to real power, but the guarantee that this power will not become transient in the future.

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