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Breakaway province of Abkhazia to hold runoff presidential election


Breakaway province of Abkhazia to hold runoff presidential election


Abkhazia will go to the polls today for a second-round of voting in presidential elections, following an inconclusive first-round on August 25.

The two remaining contenders are incumbent President Raul Khajimba and main opposition leader Alkhas Kvitsinia; both gained 26% and 25% in the first-round, respectively. Mr Khajimba likely has the support of Moscow given his close links with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The outcome is tightly contested and could swing either way depending on the preferences of voters for unsuccessful candidates. A win for Mr Khajimba will mean the continuation of anti-Georgian policies. This includes the enforcement of frequent border closures and tight restrictions on ethnic-Georgians’ living within Abkhazia having access to Abkhaz passports—important for facilitating travel to Russia.

On the other hand, Mr Kvitsinia may seek to undo some of these restrictions on ethnic-Georgians if he wins, including freeing up strict border crossings—a major issue for ethnic-Georgians with family connections on both sides of the border.

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Long-term, while Abkhazia will remain politically and economically wedded to Moscow, Kvitsinia’s leniency on border closures may allow an increase in Abkhaz-Georgian trade, enabling a possible thaw in relations.

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