Residents voted for the remaining 22 members of parliament (MPs) in the second round of parliamentary elections in the de facto Republic of Abkhazia on 26 March.
As of 18:00 voter turnout had reached 53%, Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik Abkhazia reported, based on the Central Election Commission (CEC).
According to the CEC, all 96 polling stations closed by 20:00.
While the CEC noted that turnout was again highest in Gali (Gal) District (64%), only 603 people were declared eligible to vote, from a population of 30,000. The authorities have argued that the remaining population are Georgian citizens, which makes them ineligible for Abkhazian citizenship — a prerequisite for taking part in the elections. After Gali were the districts of Ochamchire (Ochamchyra) (60%) and Gudauta (59%).
The results of the second round were determined by a simple majority of votes, with the names of only the two candidates with the highest number of votes from the first round remaining on the ballots.
Thirty-five MPs from 35 constituencies make up the Abkhazian parliament — the People’s Assembly — for five year terms.
The first round of elections took part in all 35 constituencies on 12 March, where 12 MPs were elected with a majority of votes. Another 22 members were chosen in the second round on 26 March. However, one seat remains empty in parliament, as turnout in the 17th constituency was below 25% in the first round. As a result, a rerun of the election will take place in this constituency on 14 May.
Thirty-nine observers from Russia as well as the de facto republics of Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Transnistria monitored the elections.
However, Georgia, which claims that Abkhazia is occupied by Russia, called the elections ‘illegal’. Elections in Abkhazia were denounced as illegitimate by the international community as well, including the United States, the EU, NATO and others.