As many as 61.6 percent of the registered voters had cast their ballots by 14:00 GMT in Friday’s election to choose a new leader for Abkhazia, the Abkhaz central election commission said. The Apsnipress news agency quoted election commission chairman Batal Tabagua as saying that the election would be considered valid, as voter turnout had already exceeded 50 percent of the electorate.
Abkhazia declared independence after Georgia’s 1991-1995 civil war but Georgia claims sovereignty and territorial integrity over the region. The Georgian foreign ministry on Saturday appealed to the international community to condemn Abkhazia’s presidential election, which was held three months after the death of its third elected president, Sergei Bagapsh.
“Such actions will never be legitimized and they will never determine Abkhazia’s future,” said deputy Georgian Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze.
Three candidates have been running for the top job. They are Alexander Ankvab (acting president), Sergey Shamba (incumbent prime minister), and Raul Khajimba (former vice president).
A pre-poll opinion survey predicts that a run-off election might be needed between Ankvab and Shamba.