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Georgia: UN Mission, Tbilisi Dismiss Abkhaz Elections

United Nations, 1 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations observer mission in Georgia says parliamentary elections slated for 2 March by the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia are unacceptable and illegitimate. Georgia's Foreign Ministry also has issued a statement concerning the balloting, warning that authorities in Tbilisi "proclaim them null and void," ITAR-TASS reported.

The UN mission released a statement on 1 March appealing to Abkhaz authorities to refrain from any acts that could hurt the peace process. It said the process is at a crucial point with the UN mission prepared to present to both sides a document on the future political status of Abkhazia within the state of Georgia.

The UN statement noted that previous elections held by Abkhaz authorities also were considered illegitimate by the UN Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution in January that reaffirmed the unacceptability of demographic changes resulting from the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.

That resolution also affirmed the inalienable right of all refugees and internationally displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in a secure manner.

The 1 March statement from the Georgian Foreign Ministry asserted that two-thirds of Abkhazia's indigenous inhabitants have been forced out of that country and the rights of the remaining population are regularly violated. In this situation, any election held in the territory of Abkhazia will be regarded as invalid, ITAR-TASS quoted the ministry as saying.

The Georgian parliament also published an official statement in which it called the forthcoming elections to the Abkhaz parliament "illegal and invalid," the agency reported.