Incumbent Abkhaz President Khajimba wins second term in surprise victory
Incumbent President of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba has won a second term in office – the Abkhaz Central Election Commission announced his final victory in the presidential elections earlier today on September 9.
Before the second round of voting which took place on September 8, candidate of the united opposition Alkhas Kvitsinia was considered the favorite of the race.
A few days before the vote, he was lent the support of the ex-president, Abkhaz political heavyweight Alexander Ankvab, who still has a fairly large influence on the electorate.
Khajimba won the election with just a 1,000 vote lead.
Про предварительным данным, за Алхаса Квициниа проголосовали 38 тысяч 742 избирателя – 46,19%, за Рауля Хаджимба – 39 тысяч 741 – 47, 38%.
Всего в выборах президента Абхазии приняли участие 83 тысячи человек, что составило 65,98 процента от общего списка избирателей.
According to preliminary data, opposition candidate Kvitsinia received 38,742 votes or 46.19% of the vote, while 39,741 people voted for Khajimba – 47.38%.
In total, 83,000 people took part in the presidential elections in Abkhazia, which amounted to 65.98 percent of the total voters list.
After the first round of voting on August 25, the entire expert community unanimously declared that the next president would be whomever would be able to enlist the support of Alexander Ankvab.
Due to age restrictions (the presidential candidate cannot be older than 65 years old, while Alexander Ankvab is already 67), Ankvab himself could not participate directly in the presidential race.
However, not to remain on the sidelines, Ankvab put forward his own candidate – deputy defence minister Oleg Arshba, who is not very well known in the Abkhaz political environment.
Nevertheless, he missed out on a chance to make it into the second round of the elections by just 100 votes, coming in third behind opposition candidate Alkhas Kvitsinia.
Supporters of Ankvab did not deny the fact that all 22.5% of the votes cast for Arshba in the first round were votes cast for Alexander Ankvab to take the prime minister’s chair if Arshba won.
Despite the loss of Oleg Arshba, Alexander Ankvab remained in the game until the second round.
Moreover, given that according to the results of the first round, Raul Khajimba gained only 24 percent of the vote, and Kvitsinia received 23 percent, the ex-president’s supporter was looked at as something of a ‘joker’ card in the next race.
For Ankvab, little has changed – he was still, and not without reason, considered the main contender for the post of prime minister.
Raul Khajimba understood this, Alkhas Kvitsiniya knew about it, Alexander Ankvab himself was sure of this.
The bidding process went on for ten days – as a result of backstage negotiations, both candidates agreed to the terms of the former president.
Moreover, Raul Khajimba even agreed to hand over control of the financial and economic bloc of the future government to Ankvab, in addition to the PM’s chair.
But the ex-president nevertheless decided to lend his support to Alkhas Kvitsinia.
The choice of an opposition candidate seemed ideologically sound for Ankvab.
Indeed, in 2014, it was Raul Khajimba who, as a result of mass protests by the then-led opposition, replaced Alexander Ankvab in the presidency.
An alliance with him would be poorly received by Ankvab supporters.
As a result, Alkhas Kvitsinia was chosen as an ally. Although officially the essence of the agreement was not announced.
A few months ago, the opposition had another leader – Aslan Bzhania.
In mid-April, he was poisoned, and is still being treated in a Berlin clinic.
That is why Kvistinia was declared for the presidential race, and Aslan Bzhania, in case of victory, was to be assigned the role of prime minister.
But after an alliance with Ankvab, Bzhania could remain Pushed out of the game.
All this brought confusion to the opposition, especially since Ankvab and Bzhania had an already rather complicated relationship.
Therefore, during a television debate, Alkhas Kvitsinia, to the question of Raul Khajimba as to who would be his prime minister, replied that he did not have the candidacy of a particular person in mind for the premiership.
And this was rather ambiguously perceived in the camp of the opposition.
Nevertheless, after Ankvab announced his support for Kvitsinia, in the expert community the prevailing sentiment was that the second round would become a formality – Raul Khajimba had no chance.
Reaction to Khajimba’s victory
Despite the small difference between the two candidates for the presidency, no one except Kvitsinia disputes the voting results.
This is probably because the information about how people voted at each polling station immediately became known not only to the Central Election Commission, but also to both candidate’s headquarters.
In addition, ballots from all sections were scanned and published on the Internet, so that all of Abkhazia could conduct its parallel counting in real time.
However, Alkhas Kvitsinia has not conceded.
He believes that Raul Khajimba cannot be considered an elected president, since he did not get more than 50 percent of the vote, as required by law.
Kvitsinia is calling for new elections, and has appealed to court.
However, even before the first round, the CEC appealed to the Constitutional Court with a request to clarify how exactly this legislative clause should be implemented.
The Constitutional Court replied that “it is the prerogative of the Central Election Commission to decide what to do.”
As a result, four days before the vote, the Central Election Commission decided to consider the winner of the presidential campaign a candidate who will gain a simple majority of votes.
And this decision, according to Tamaz Gogia, chairman of the CEC, was agreed upon with the headquarters of both Raul Khajimba and Alkhas Kvitsinia.