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Georgian Separatist Incumbent Rejects Opposition Demands For Fresh Presidential Vote

Abkazia's incumbent separatist leader Raul Khajimba (file photo)

Abkhazia's incumbent separatist leader Raul Khajimba has rejected opposition demands for a new presidential election after disputing the results of a runoff in the breakaway Georgian region that gave him a slim victory.

Opposition candidate Alkha Kvitsinia and his supporters held a rally on September 10 to protest the results, which gave Khajimba victory by just 1,000 votes in the runoff held two days earlier.

"The election has taken place, its results are obvious, the situation should be peacefully accepted, the possibility of joint work should be considered, and efforts should be taken to continue the country's development," Khajimba told a gathering of his supporters on September 11.

Election authorities have said that about 127,000 people were registered to vote in Abkhazia, which Russia recognized as an independent country after fighting a brief war against Georgia in 2008.

The results showed Khajimba with 47.3 percent of votes, compared with 46.1 percent for Kvitsinia, the leader of the Amtsakhara party.

Since neither candidate took more than 50 percent of the ballots, the opposition says legally, a new election must be held.

"We declare that we will not allow Khajimba to obtain power through dirty methods and illegal ways. We will pursue, by all possible and acceptable methods, including protests involving thousands of people, the reversal of the Central Election Commission's decision and the adoption of a legal constitutional decision by the highest legislative body," the Amtsakhara party said in a statement.

Only a handful of countries have recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian region. The two territories make up around 20 percent of Georgian territory, and Moscow’s backing of the regions has drawn broad international condemnation.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has called the election "a sham."

Last month marked the 11th anniversary of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia that resulted in the occupation by Russian military forces of the two separatist regions.

Russia has maintained troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia since the 2008 war.

South Ossetia held parliamentary elections on June 9 that many Western countries have also called illegitimate.