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Former KGB Chief Declared Winner of South Ossetian Presidential Election


South Ossetia's leader Leonid Tibilov

South Ossetia's leader Leonid Tibilov

A former head of South Ossetia's KGB has been declared the winner of a presidential election in Georgia's breakaway region.

South Ossetia's election commission said that with all votes counted from a runoff poll on April 8, Leonid Tibilov won with just over 54 percent of the vote.

Tibilov's rival, human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev, had nearly 43 percent.

The vote was held after the Supreme Court ruled a November presidential election invalid after opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva topped the poll.

The court also barred Dzhioyeva from competing for the presidency.

South Ossetia, like Georgia's other breakaway region of Abkhazia, declared independence in the early 1990s.

Following the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Moscow recognized the two regions as independent countries, but the overwhelming majority of the international community has not and still considers them part of Georgia.

Sanakoyev 'Acknowledges' Defeat

Media reports said Sanakoyev has acknowledged defeat and congratulated Tibilov on his victory.

South Ossetia's election commission said turnout in the runoff was 71 percent.

Tibilov, who headed South Ossetia's security agency during the 1990s, had won over 40 percent of the vote in the first round last month.

There had been days of angry protests by Dzhioyeva supporters after the Supreme Court annulled the November 27 election for alleged violations.

In the November election Dzhioyeva, a former education minister and anticorruption campaigner, appeared to have won against a Kremlin-backed candidate.

Dzhioyeva was then hospitalized in February after being interrogated following allegations that she planned to seize power.

South Ossetia is heavily dependent on Moscow's financial help and military protection, but there has been growing dissatisfaction about how funds are being spent.

"We hope for our life to get better," Tskhinvali resident Manana Dudaeva told Reuters on April 9. "We're tired of living in the dirt, without water. What else? We hope for the better."

During his election campaign, Tibilov acknowledged that funds have been misappropriated and promised to crack down on corruption.

Georgia says the South Ossetian vote is illegitimate.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

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