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Separatist Abkhazia Holds Presidential Vote

WATCH: The breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia is voting for a new president, three years to the day since Russia recognized it as an independent state. (Video by Reuters)

The separatist Georgian territory of Abkhazia is holding an early presidential election.

The vote will result in a replacement for Sergei Bagapsh, the separatist president who died in May after undergoing lung surgery.

Challengers for the job include Prime Minister Sergei Shamba, Vice President Aleksandr Ankvab, and an opposition candidate, Raul Khajimba.

All three candidates reject any reunification with Georgia.

The separatists will be selecting their third president since breaking away from Georgia in an early-1990s war.

Today's vote is being held on the third anniversary of Russia's official recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following the brief 2008 war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia.

Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru have followed Moscow in recognizing Abkhaz independence, but Georgia and the rest of the international community still consider the territory part of Georgia.

Russia has thousands of troops based in the territory and issues Russian passports to Abkhaz residents.

compiled from agency reports