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Vice President Wins Georgian Rebel Region's Presidential Election

Aleksandr Ankvab meets with supporters after the preliminary data released in Sukhumi on August 26.
The vice president of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has won the presidential election there.

Central Election Commission Chairman Batal Tabagua told reporters that preliminary figures showed Aleksandr Ankvab taking 55 percent of the vote.

Tbilisi called the polls illegitimate and NATO said it would refuse to recognize them.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that "the alliance reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders."

The August 26 election was called after President Sergei Bagapsh died in May. Other candidates included Prime Minister Sergei Shamba and an opposition candidate, Raul Khajimba, a former prime minister.

All three candidates reject any reunification with Georgia.

The presidential election is the first in Abkhazia since Moscow recognized its independence in 2008 following Russia's war with Georgia over another breakaway region, 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

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