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Georgian president labels Abkhazia election ‘a sham’

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has called an election in the Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia “a sham.”

“The Abkhaz authorities are de facto holding the illegitimate presidential election today. Georgia condemns this sham process as one more violation of our national sovereignty,” Mrs Zurabishvili wrote on Twitter.

The Georgian foreign ministry also condemned the election.

“The so-called ‘presidential elections’ are yet another futile attempt to legalise ethnic cleansing, ongoing illegal occupation and factual annexation in the region of Abkhazia,”  the ministry said in a statement, in which it also called on Russia to respect its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its illegal recognition of two Georgian regions, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

On August 26, a number of Georgia’s allies – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States – issued a joint statement condemning the Abkhazia election.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the so-called ‘presidential elections’ held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region by the de facto authorities in Sokhumi on August 25, 2019, and will not acknowledge their outcome. Similarly, we do not recognise the legitimacy or outcome of the so-called ‘parliamentary elections’ held in Georgia’s South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region on June 9, 2019. We reiterate our full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. We once again urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of its forces to pre-conflict positions and the provision of free access for humanitarian assistance to these regions, as well to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states,” read the statement.

Abkhazia’s incumbent president, Raul Khadzhimba, is expected to win the Abkhazia election.