But Kokoity appears determined to cling to power, at the risk of a confrontation if Dzhioyeva's supporters make good on their stated intention to stage her public inauguration as president on December 10.
Dzhioyeva told journalists on December 8 after the ninth round of Kremlin-mediated talks between the two camps that she had offered to halt the public protests by her supporters in Tskhinvali if Kokoity stepped down and acknowledged her as interim president. She would then guarantee the holding of the repeat presidential election.
Kokoity for his part acknowledged on December 8 that his presidential term had expired. But he said he would relinquish power only after the "Orange Revolution," meaning Dzhioyeva's supporters' public protests, ended.
'Gang Of Four' Holds On
Kokoity's position has been weakened this week by calls by deputy parliament speakers Mira Tskhovrebova and Yury Dzitstsoity for him to step down when his term in office expired on December 7. Eight more of the total 30 parliament deputies, including former speaker Stanislav Kochiyev, formally endorsed Tskhovrebova's statement. Only political parties unequivocally loyal to Kokoity were allowed to participate in the May 2009 parliamentary elections.
In an address to the population on December 6, Kokoity admitted that "we can see how intense the protest mood is," and that "the organs of state power have not performed ideally, there have been numerous failings and omissions for which specific officials are to blame."
Kokoity then proceeded to dismiss two government ministers, the mayors of Tskhinvali and Kvaisa, a local district-council head, and State Communications and Media Committee head Georgy Kabisov. Some observers identified Kabisov as one of the presidential candidates Kokoity was backing in the first round; he placed sixth out of 11 candidates with 7.62 percent of the vote.
Kokoity did not, however, meet the opposition's demand for the dismissal of any of his fellow members of what the opposition has branded "the Gang of Four": Prosecutor-General Taymuraz Khugayev, his deputy Eldar Kokoyev, and Supreme Court Chairman Atsamaz Bichenov.
Dzhioyeva's announcement on December 8 of the creation of a People's Front to back Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's candidacy in the presidential election next March suggests that she has given up all hope of support from incumbent Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But she would be naive to place any hopes in Putin, especially in light of his statement several months ago that South Ossetia could at some point become a subject of the Russian Federation.
Dzhioyeva is not participating in the December 9 Russian-mediated negotiations in Tskhinvali.