By Ria Novosti
Parliamentary elections in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia ended on Saturday with turnout nearing 40 percent, sufficient to consider them legitimate, local authorities said.
The vote was officially declared valid, head of the republic’s Central Election Commission, Batal Tabagua, said shortly after the polling stations closed on 8 p.m. local time.
Tabagua did not comment on the election’s outcome, saying only that some districts may have to hold a repeat vote in May. He did not elaborate. The authorities are expected to announce the election’s results on Sunday.
Turnout in the republic of 240,000 stood at 37 percent two hours before the vote’s end, well above the minimal limit of 25 percent needed for the vote to be valid
The elections were democratic and up to international standards, said vote monitor Isaya Taape, who hails from Tuvalu, a tiny Pacific nation that is one of five countries, along with Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, to have recognized Abkhazia’s independence. The other 45 foreign observers present at the polls have not commented on the vote after the elections wrapped on Saturday.
A total of 148 candidates, the majority of them independents, were competing for the 35 seats at the legislature in the republic, one of two Georgian breakaway regions, along with South Ossetia, to be recognized by Moscow as independent states following a brief war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008.
Election officials on the ground said on Saturday they will ask the government to hold elections in the summer the next time because most polling stations were located in schools and libraries that had no working central heating since Abkhazia, whose GDP stood at $2,200 in 2009, became de-facto independent from Georgia in the early 1990s. The mercury in the capital Tskhinvali stood at minus 3 degrees Celsius on election day.