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Abkhazia’s president wins majority support in parliamentary poll 

29 March 2022
Election in Abkhazia. Photo: Marianna Kotova/OC Media.

Supporters of President Aslan Bzhania have won a large majority in parliamentary elections in Abkhazia.

On 26 March, residents of Abkhazia voted in runoffs in 17 of 35 seats, another 17 having been won outright in the first round on 12 March.

Votes will be held again in two seats: in Gudauta, where turnout was below the threshold during the first round, and in the Sukhumi (Sukhum) constituency 8, where candidates Naur Narmania and Leon Gubaz both won 989 votes in the second round.

Of the 33 MPs elected, at least 25 are supporters of Aslan Bzhania, giving the president unprecedented support in the legislature.

Only two MPs from opposition parties won seats, Kan Kvarchia and Eriс Rshtuni, though several MPs elected as independents are also supporters of the opposition.

A total of 123 candidates had competed for seats in the 35-member parliament.

Announcing the preliminary results of the second round on Sunday, the local Central Election Commission (CEC) reported that almost 37,000 out of around 68,000 eligible voters in the constituencies up for grabs took part in the elections, a turnout of 55%.

The CEC reported receiving one complaint from candidate Amiran Kakalia, who said that some ballots did not have the signatures of his observers. CEC chair Dmitry Marshan said that ‘according to the law, only signatures of members of the precinct commission are required on ballots’.

The incoming parliament will not include any lawmaker with an ethnic Russian background.

The election, as in previous years, was held on the background of the lingering problem of disenfranchised residents of Gali (Gal) District, a Georgian-populated region bordering the Georgian-controlled region of Mingrelia.

The overwhelming majority of Gali residents, who hold Georgian citizenship, remained ineligible to vote, as Abkhazian citizenship was stripped of them several years ago. In the region, which has a population of tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians, less than 2,000 voters were included in the voters' list in the corresponding 35th District. 

The Georgian Government, which claims sovereignty over Abkhazia,  rejected the vote as illegitimate, as did several other countries including the United States.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

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