Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia held a run-off vote Sunday to elect a leader after months of political turmoil. Former local head of the KGB security service Leonid Tibilov was facing human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev after falling short of the 50 percent required to win in the first round, with 42.5 percent of votes last month. Residents of South Ossetia’s main town Tkhinvali slowly gathered at polling stations to cast ballots after polls opened at 8 a.m. local time on the day when the mostly Orthodox Christian region celebrates Palm Sunday. About 35,000 people are registered voters at the 84 polling stations in the impoverished region where a heavy Russian military presence remains after the 2008 war with Georgia.
The tiny region, which is recognised by Moscow as independent after the brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, has been in political turmoil since November, when opposition candidate Alla Dzhioyeva’s victory was annulled in court, leading to 10 days of street rallies. Dzhioyeva did not register for the ballot in the repeat election last month, after a long stay in the hospital and allegations that she was beaten and held against her will.
Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, shortly after the 2008 war, while other world powers insisted that both territories should remain an integral part of Georgia. Georgia called the leadership elections a sham.
Full Article: AFP: Rebel South Ossetia holds run-off election.