07:21 GMT +3 hours27 November 2014
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Washington calls presidential elections in Abkhazia illegitimate

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The U.S. Department of State said that the presidential elections held in former Georgian republic of Abkhazia on Saturday were illegitimate.

The U.S. Department of State said that the presidential elections held in former Georgian republic of Abkhazia on Saturday were illegitimate.

"The United States regrets the decision to hold "elections" in the Abkhazia region of Georgia on December 12 and recognizes neither the legality nor the results," Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement.

The vote was the first since Russia recognized Abkhazia's independence in August 2008 after a brief war with Georgia. Nicaragua and Venezuela are the two other countries to recognize Abkhazia's sovereignty.

"The United States reiterates its support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," Kelly added.

The winning candidate was required to gain a majority of 50% plus one vote. According to preliminary official results announced by the Abkhazian Central Election Commission, incumbent President Sergei Bagapsh won 59.4% of the vote, with his former vice president, Raul Khadzimba, trailing with 15.4%.

The Abkhaz president said on Sunday his inauguration would take place on February 12 next year.

Bagapsh, 60, has been president of the former Georgian republic since January 2005.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has condemned the vote as an illegal Kremlin-backed gesture in an "occupied territory."

Russia is the guarantor of Abkhazia's security with several thousand troops in the region under bilateral security and cooperation agreements signed since August 2008.

WASHINGTON, December 15 (RIA Novosti)