TBILISI, DFWatch – Abkhazia, one of Georgia’s two breakaway regions, Saturday held parliamentary elections.

According to the de facto Central Election Commission, voter turnout was 29.25% in 174 electoral districts by 15:00. This increased to 37.6% turnout by 18:00.

According to the local news agency Apsnypress, the head of the CEC stated that by law, at least 25% of the voters, which means 149 622 people, should vote in order for the elections to be valid.

The separatist region elects a 35-member parliament for a five year term in a first past the post system.

Of the 148 candidates participating in the election, 16 were women. 21 of candidates were sitting MPs up for reelection.

Only 34 candidates were nominated by political parties, the others were ‘independent candidates’, which were presented by ‘initiative groups’ in single-mandate districts.

The ruling party United Abkhazia and othe pposition Abkhazian National Unity Forum, which is led by Raul Khajimba, each presented 11 candidates.

The Economic Development Party presented six candidates; and also six candidates participated from the communist party.

There were two ethnically Georgian candidates in the election, Apsnypress reports; 125 ethnically Abkhazian; nine ethnically Armenian; eight Russian; two Greek, one Ossetian and one Kabardin.

The ethnic distribution during previous de facto parliamentary elections was the same. The de facto assembly already had two ethnic Georgian MPs and now two more ethnic Georgians were participating in the election.

Tbilisi and the international community consider the Abkhazian elections illegitimate. The exception is Russia and a few other countries which have recognized Abkhazia.

Apsnypress reports that the de facto minister Otar Khetsia stated that the police were on high alert in the districts ‘immediately bordering Georgia’.

He says the so-called parliamentary elections were conducted without any violations of the rules, and the Interior Ministry’s personnel were in a state of heightened readiness.

Nearly three weeks ago, there was an assassination attempt against the Abkhazian de facto president Alexander Ankvab, who was elected at the end of August 2011.

The president himself saw the attack in connection with mafia and criminal groups and political circles connected with these groups. But the Russian foreign ministry stated that the attack on the president was aimed at destabilizing the situation in Abkhazia ahead of the parliamentary elections.