How to get out of the deadlock of the opposition controlling the presidential administration but the president not intending to resign
Abkhazia has been in a state of political crisis since January 9, when supporters of the opposition, which for several months has been demanding that the results of the September 2019 presidential election be canceled, burst into and occupied the presidential administration building.
The main argument of the opposition Is that President Raul Khajimba won only 47 percent of the vote in the second round of elections, while the law requires 50 percent +1 of all voters. Therefore, the opposition demands the appointment of new presidential elections. The protesters were supported by the parliament and asked Khajimba to resign.
The president, however, refuses to leave office. Protesters, in turn, refuse to leave the seized building of the presidential administration.
political observer and JAMnews editor in Abkhazia
Since the opposition supporters stormed the palace of the President of Abkhazia on January 9, we can say that the boomerang that President Khajimba himself launched in May 2014 – when he took power in the presidential palace with the same method currently employed by the opposition – has now come back to haunt him.
He’s got his just deserts.
However, given the history of the struggle for power in Abkhazia, there are practically no ‘innocent’ people left who can sneer at opponents with contempt and say – ‘putschists! Rabble rousers!’
Back in 2014, when Alexander Ankvab – the predecessor of Raul Khajimba – faced a similar situation back in 2014, he calculated his chances of remaining in power and decided to resign voluntarily. But Khajimba has been cheerfully declaring that he is in control of the situation and is ready for negotiations, but that he is not going anywhere.
Meanwhile, there is no particular reason to hope for the restoration of the status quo.
First, the Minister of Defence Mirab Kishmaria declares that the army will not participate in the affair.
Second, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has not yet said anything.
But we must take into account that during the presidency of Khajimba not a single person was punished for beating up a policeman, and there are a dozen such stories.
Therefore, one can predict how ordinary police officers will behave in a confrontation.
The only power structure that can stand up for the president is his personal guard. Although it was the involvement of certain presidential security officers in a crime that became the incentive for the start of these events.
Yes, the opposition did not recognize Khajimba’s victory in the September 2019 presidential election.
But even if it had accepted them, Khajimba still couldn’t manage to sit for the next five years in the presidential chair without changing anything.
And here it’s not even Khajimba. Anyone who finds himself in the chair of the president should immediately begin cardinal systemic transformations. Otherwise, he is doomed to see a crowd of protesters under the windows of the presidential palace.
Now everything is in search of a way out of the current impasse: the opposition controls the presidential palace – and the president is not going to leave anywhere.
Many say: we will wait for the decision of the Supreme Court, where the lawsuit of the leader of the opposition ‘Amtsakhara’ Alkhas Kvitsinia on declaring the election results invalid is ongoing.
And yes, the court will probably reverse the decision of the CEC, which proclaimed Khajimba the winner, and will call for new elections.
But what does this mean for the future?
We are doomed to remain at an impasse, periodically observe how one group drives another out of the presidential palace, then see the same from the other side.
And this will continue indefinitely – until we begin to live for the interests of the whole family society, and not of single individuals.
The building of the presidential administration in Abkhazia after opposition supporters burst into it. January 10, 2020. Photo: Anaid Gogoryan