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Abkhaz Candidate Outlines Former Rival's Role

9 December 2004 -- Abkhaz presidential candidate Sergei Bagapsh today lifted the veil on the power-sharing deal he reached earlier this week with his ally and former rival Raul Khajimba.

Both men agreed on 5 December to face a repeat of the disputed 3 October polls on a joint ticket, with Bagapsh running for president and Khajimba seeking the vice-presidency.

The vote is due to take place in early January and no other candidate has said he will run.

Bagapsh yesterday said Khajimba would be responsible for managing the Georgian separatist republic's defense and foreign policies.

"Under the agreement we've signed, there is a addendum that says that Raul Jumkovich [Khajimba] will run the power structures bloc -- the army bloc -- and manage the foreign policy," Bagapsh said. "Under the constitution, foreign policy is determined by the president and it is managed by the vice-president."

Bagapsh, who was pronounced the winner of the October polls, should have been sworn in on 6 December. But on the eve of his inauguration he struck a last-minute deal with his defeated rival to avoid civil unrest and economic blockade from Russia.

Moscow last week restricted trade with Abkhazia and threatened to close its border if Bagapsh was inaugurated.