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Abkhaz Opposition Takes Control Of Government Building

12 November 2004 -- Opposition protesters in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia today stormed the building that hosts the government and the presidential administration, demanding that their candidate be allowed to take office as the Black Sea province's new leader.

Media reports say the presidential guard attempted to prevent the protesters from entering the complex, but had to eventually withdraw.

Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency says one person was wounded during the melee.

Prime Minister Nodar Khashba had left the building earlier in the day. His whereabouts and that of President Vladislav Ardzinba are not known.

The demonstrators were protesting against Ardzinba's decision to order a new vote early next month in place of the disputed 3 October presidential election.

Election officials had declared opposition contender Sergei Bagapsh the winner of the polls. But the outgoing administration had ruled against the decision, claiming the vote was fraudulent.


[For the latest news on the tensions in Abkhazia, see RFE/RL's webpage on Abkhazia and Georgia.]