REVIEW - Abkhazian President Khadzhimba Beats His Rival In Runoff By 1%

SUKHUM (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 09th September, 2019) Abkhazian President Raul Khadzhimba won the second round of presidential elections held on Sunday, gaining 47.39 percent of the vote, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

His margin of victory was a little over one percentage point, as his rival, Alkhas Kvitsiniya, received 46.17 percent of the vote. Kvitsiniya has already stated that he did not accept the election results and would challenge them he has three days for doing this.

The leader of the Amtsakhara party, Kvitsiniya, is not going to give up. He said that the leader had to gain an absolute majority of the votes.

"Yes, of course, we will demand [re-election] in accordance with the law. Because, according to our law, the column 'none of the above' must be added to the number of votes of the candidate who takes second place, and, in order to become legitimately elected president, the candidate who takes first place must beat this figure in terms of quantity. That is stipulated by law," Kvitsiniya told Sputnik.

However, there is a nuance. Section 19 of the Presidential Election Law stipulates that "a candidate shall be considered elected if they receive the largest number of votes with regard to another candidate, provided that the number of votes cast for the candidate is greater than the number of votes cast in opposition." On the basis of this section, the opposition interprets the "none of the above" column as votes cast against Khadzhimba.

"If none of the candidates were elected president of the Republic of Abkhazia during the second ballot, the Central Election Commission reschedules the election," the law says.

Tamaz Gogia, the CEC head, explained to Sputnik that according to the law, a candidate who secures a simple majority of votes, rather than an absolute one, is considered elected.

"Just yesterday they said the opposite, and even in writing. It is right as we accepted it: [the president should be elected in the second round] by a simple majority [of votes]," Gogia said.

On the eve of the second round, Kvitsiniya sent a letter to the CEC clarifying his position on the issue, and then his opinion was different.

"The number of votes cast for a given candidate shall be taken into account, excluding votes cast against all ... The number of votes in the 'none of the above' column shall be taken into account as the third opinion of the voter, but it shall neither be added nor subtracted with votes cast for the candidate," the letter read.

Gogia also said that Kvitsiniya's appeal for the re-election was rejected.

"The appeal was considered ... and rejected," Gogia said, noting that the candidate may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The CEC building in the center of Sukhum is heavily guarded by the police. In particular, law enforcement officers closed the roads near the building, and several dozen police and Swat officers were brought there.

Kvitsiniya's supporters gathered at the headquarters of his party. However, the situation in Sukhum is generally calm. No protest movements have been observed.

According to Gogia, now the commission has three days to publish the official results of the elections, after which all those who are dissatisfied will have three more days to appeal this decision in the Supreme Court of Abkhazia.