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Abkhazia’s election – a look at minorities

by | Mar 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Abkhazia, the Georgian breakaway republic, last Saturday held the last of two election rounds for parliament. A closer look reveals that ethnic Abkhaz have a stronger representation among those who were elected.

In fact, the majority of elected MPs are of Abkhaz origin, while ethnic Abkhaz constitute only half of the population of the breakaway republic. Among the 35 who make up the elected body, only three are Armenian and one is a Georgian; Bezhan Ubiria. There are no ethnic Russian MPs in the new parliament, and only one woman.

The first session of the newly elected parliament will be held on April 10.

If we look at the candidates to choose from, there were 125 Abkhaz, 11 Armenians, 2 Georgians, 2 Greeks, 1 Ossetian and 1 Kabardin.

According to the latest statistical data, about fifty per cent of the population in the de facto republic are of Abkhazian origin, 20 percent are Georgians, around 17 percent Armenians, and 10 percent are Russians.

After the results were announced, Armenian media and some Russian experts were writing that the new parliament can be considered discriminatory, considering the ethnic composition of the region.

“There are questions about how the new composition of parliament reflects the ethnic picture of Abkhazia, where there is an extensive Armenian Diaspora, a Russian segment of the population and other ethnic groups,” a Russian news site writes, mentioning that there are no representatives for the Russian minority in the new parliament and there are only three Armenians.

Paata Zakareishvili, who monitors conflicts in the Caucasus and is a member of Georgia’s Republican Party, tells DF Watch that the new de facto parliament can be considered more discriminatory than the previous one. But parliament is elected on political grounds and not ethnic, he says.

Zakareishvili explains that parliament in Abkhazia is not formed on ethnic grounds; there is no law which defines it this way. But he also underlines the weak electoral system.

In political regard, six official opposition candidates were elected.

“However many things are vague, as a majority of candidates are represented by independent initiative groups,” he says, explaining that the election system allows civil groups to present their candidates.

Among elected MPs there are candidates nominated by only two political parties: United Abkhazia (three MPs) and Forum of People’s Unity of Abkhazia (four MPs).

Georgia doesn’t the recognize the de facto elections in Abkhazia, but considering them illegal. Today the U.S. and European Union also expressed their positions about the parliamentary and presidential elections in Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively.

“We reaffirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,” said Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department spokesperson. She said the USA doesn’t recognize the de facto Abkhaz elections, as well as the presidential elections in South Ossetia on March 25.

“The European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework in which these elections were conducted,” the EU press office says.



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