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Tbilisi calls Abkhazia's presidential elections 'illegitimate'

RIA Novosti

13:17 14/12/2009 TBILISI/MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian Foreign Ministry declared on Monday that the presidential elections held in its former republic of Abkhazia on Saturday were "illegitimate and illegal."

The vote was the first since Russia recognized Abkhazia's independence in August 2008 after a brief war with Georgia. The winning candidate was required to gain a majority of 50% plus one vote.

According to preliminary official results announced by the Abkhazian Central Election Commission, incumbent President Sergei Bagapsh won 59.4% of the vote, with his former vice president, Raul Khadzimba, trailing with 15.4%.

"It is clear that the so-called elections, like similar farces that were carried out previously, are illegitimate and illegal," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Abkhaz president said on Sunday his inauguration would take place on February 12 next year.

Bagapsh, 60, has been president of the former Georgian republic since January 2005. In his election campaign he pledged to focus on the development of the Abkhaz economy, improve living standards and raise wages. He also said that in its foreign policy Abkhazia would continue strengthening political and economic ties with Russia.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has condemned the vote as an illegal Kremlin-backed gesture in an "occupied territory."

Russia is the guarantor of Abkhazia's security with several thousand troops in the region under bilateral security and cooperation agreements signed since August 2008.



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