Neither confidence nor coalition
Political discord in Abkhazia surrounding the opposition’s demand to hold a referendum on snap presidential elections came to a critical moment-yesterday, on June 1, President Raul Khajimba reached a decision and signed a decree on holding a referendum on July 10.
Although he openly stated that he would be making this decision, he was opposed to it.
“Apparently, the ball is already in motion to remove the legal power in the country at any cost…They cannot bring any accusations against me that would provide the grounds for demanding my early resignation.
“We could have challenged the authenticity of the collected signatures…and we could have turned down the request to holding a vote. But I am not going to do that, since I realize that what the supporters of the referendum count on is not the positive outcome of the vote, but rather my refusal to call the referendum, hoping to use this decision as a way to destabilize the situation and fuel domestic political tensions.
The circumstances of the political standoff acquired became evident on March 2, when an initiative group (46 people) held a news conference, stating the ‘need for holding a referendum due to the aggravated socio-political situation.’ JAMnews has already reported in detail on the arguments of those who support and oppose the referendum, as well as of those who are still unable to choose a side.
In parallel, an initiative for changing the government’s work regime instead of once again dismissing the President ahead of the end of his term has been actively discussed in Abkhazia. In particular, it has been suggested that an absolutely new ‘government of the people’s concord’ should be formed.
Two centrist-wing organizations–‘Fair Abkhazia’ and the ‘People’s Front of Abkhazia for Justice and Development’, are the founders of this idea.
No need for new swindlers
The authors of the initiative believe that the government, formed on the basis of public concord, could launch real reforms and eradicate the antagonism between supporters of the incumbent authorities and the opposition.
“We are against replacing one type of swindlers with other ones. The new government should be professional and efficient. Those who reject this idea are purposefully getting in the way of achieving concord, claims David Agrba, co-chair of ‘Fair Abkhazia’.
Lasha Sakania, the leader of the ‘People’s Front of Abkhazia for Justice and Development’, denies public speculations that they are just trying to gain power. “Neither my counterparts, nor I look at ourselves as members of the people’s unity government. We are ready to stand beside the President and become actively involved in the reforms, but we are not seeking job opportunities in governmental structures.
The heavyweights step out of the shade
The idea of these new political stakeholders (both organizations were set up end of last year) would have probably remained unnoticed, if it had not been for the support on the part of Sergei Shamba, a political heavyweight and leader of the ‘United Abkhazia’ party. It was not just ‘United Abkhazia’. Beslan Butba’s ‘ERA’ party and Beslan Eshba’s ‘Apsadgil’ movement followed his suit and spoke favorably of this idea.
“Since 2004, we have miraculously escaped misfortune twice. Regrettably, today we are going down the same path–there hasn’t been any step taken towards finding a compromise between the conflicting parties, says Sergei Shamba.
In his words, the “government of unity” could be regarded as an experiment. “I am sure that no one would like the situation to go beyond the limits of the constitution. I think that we could stand together as the mediators between the government and the opposition, give up on the referendum issue, unite into one “government of the people” and see how it will rule the country.
Raul Lolua, the Head of the public organization, ‘Our Home-Abkhazia’, called this idea as ‘unrealistic’, since this kind of government could only be formed in a parliamentary republic.
“We have the idea of “presidency” and only the President appoints and approves the Cabinet of Ministers. Our legislation does not provide for such things as a ‘coalition government’ or a ‘government of confidence.’ So, how can we demand the President to create this kind of government?
‘Fair Abkhazia’ conducted a wide-scale public survey in mid-May that revealed that 66.7% of respondents supported the idea. However, the survey questionnaires included different wording–a ‘coalition government’.
Irakli Khintba, then-aide to the Abkhaz President, made a sarcastic comment with regard to this initiative on social media: “A coalition government and a government of confidence are two absolutely different things.
President Raul Khajimba rejected the idea and chose to hold a referendum.
The opinions expressed in the article convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff.