TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia Sunday held presidential elections. By 10 in the morning, 11% of voters had visited election precincts; a high turnout, according to the Central Election Committee of the region.
Interfax reports that Tskhinvali had closed its borders with Georgia as a security precaution. The borders were to be reopened as the voting booths closed at 8 in the evening.
Four candidates were competing for the post as de facto president: ex-Chairman of the State Security Committee, Leonid Tibilov; President’s Commissioner for Human Rights, David Sanakoev; South Ossetia’s Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Medoyev; and Communist Party leader Stanislav Kochiyev.
All of them were preceived as acceptable to Russia, experts say, but they emphasize Dmitry Medoyev as the Kremlin favorite. He has been working and living in Russia for years.
34 360 voters were registered on the voters list in total. Nearly fifty international observers were monitoring the elections, Ria Novosti reports.
“47 observers represent parliaments, socio-political and non-governmental organizations in Russia, Israel, Italy, France and other countries, including the Transdniester Moldovan Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Foreign Affairs Minister of the de facto republic says.
Russian news agencies quote Russian observers in Tskhinvali saying that theelections are being conducted in an open and democratic way.
Voting ended at 8 PM and preliminary results were to be announced by 11 PM on Sunday.
The elections will be valid if more than half of registered voters participated. To win, a candidate must receive 50% plus one vote.
This is the second attempt at organizing an election to replace longstanding leader Eduard Kokoity.
A first and second round of elections were held in November 2011, but the results were cancelled. Opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva and Kremlin favorite Anatoly Bibilov competed in the second round. Dzhioyeva was on her way to a clear victory, but after a complaint to the Supreme Court, the Court announced the elections failed and scheduled new elections for today, March 25.
Dzhioyeva kept fighting for her rights and her supporters demand that power is transferred to her, but a protest campaign and after several failed negotiation attempts the situation is at a stalemate.
Though at some point planning to participate in today’s poll, she withdrew her candidacy, and boycotted the rescheduled election. Also Anatoly Bibilov withdrew, in order to let people make a free choice and let the other leaders compete.
At the beginning of February, Dzhioyeva was about to hold her inauguration, but the day before, she and her supporters were attacked at her headquarters. She was submitted to hospital with injuries and reported to have had a heart attack.
A few days ago, Dzhioyeva was released from hospital. Russian media reports her house is guarded by police, for her own security. She called for her supporters to vote today, as it is their constitutional duty; however she herself did not vote. She says she doesn’t believe in the impartiality of these elections and none of the candidates have spoken out on the events of February 9, when she was attacked.