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Election Officials Say Turnout Over 50 Percent In Georgia’s Breakaway Abkhazia Region


Preliminary results in Abkhazia's parliamentary vote are expected on March 13.

Local officials say voter turnout has exceeded 50 percent in all districts of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region, which is choosing a new legislature for the unrecognized, Russian-supported area.

Abkhazia election officials late March 12 said the turnout represented a five percentage point rise over the 2012 elections.

Elections in the region are considered valid if more than 25 percent of registered voters take part, local officials said.

Preliminary results are expected March 13.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry assailed the elections, saying they were “yet another attempt to legitimize the ethnic purge, military intervention,
occupation, and results of Russian aggression being carried out against Georgian statehood."

"Under international law, any so-called elections or referendum held in occupied territories are illegal and will have no legal result," the ministry said.

Election officials say 137 candidates from four political parties took part in the vote to fill the 35-seat People’s Assembly.

Should a winning candidate not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be scheduled within two weeks, officials said.

The Black Sea region has a population of slightly under 250,000, and is struggling with economic stagnation and infrastructure decay compounded by lack of investment; high unemployment; and rising crime and drug addiction.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia, as independent countries after fighting a brief war against Georgia in 2008.

The United States and most other countries consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be parts of Georgia and do not recognize the results of elections held in the two regions.

Based on reporting by ria.ru and TASS
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