South Ossetia’s presidential election will continue into the second round as none of the candidates has gained the required number of votes to win, the former Georgian republic’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday.
“Preliminary data suggest that Emergencies Minister Anatoly Bibilov and ex-education minister Alla Dzhioyeva will compete in the second round,” CEC head Bella Pliyeva said.
With data from 78 polling places out of 86 processed, Dzhioyeva is gaining 24.6 percent of the vote, and Kremlin-backed Bibilov 23.8 percent, she said. Other candidates are winning less than 10 percent.
Voter turnout at Sunday’s polls was over 66 percent with 50 percent set as the required minimum.
In order to win the election in the first round, a candidate should secure 50 percent plus one vote. In the runoff, elections are valid if more than 30 percent of voters take part in them. The winner is chosen by simple majority.
Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another former Georgian region - Abkhazia - in 2008, following a five-day war with Georgia, which began when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders.
Moscow's decision has been condemned by many nations, but a few other countries followed Russia’s suit to recognize the independence of the two regions, which Georgia considers part of its sovereign territory “occupied by the Russian armed forces.”