Anatoly Bibilov, Russia’s favored candidate in last year’s annulled presidential polls in the Georgian breakaway territory of South Ossetia, announced on Monday he would not take part in a new vote next month.
“I will not put forward my candidature for the new polls in March so that our citizens can avoid conflicts and make their choice in calm surroundings,” Bibilov told reporters in Tskhinvali, the country's capital.
Bibilov, the Russia-allied region’s emergencies minister, was defeated by opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva in a run-off vote in November.
But the region’s Supreme Court declared the results invalid and barred Dzhioyeva from the March elections after Bibilov accused her of vote-rigging.
Dzhioyeva, South Ossetia’s former education minister, denounced the ruling and declared herself president. She also announced her inauguration date as February 10.
Bibilov said on Monday the unrest which followed the annulment had “split our society.”
He also urged all candidates who took part in last year’s election to follow suit and quit the race.
“We should forget for the time being about our personal ambitions,” he said. “I am confident that the appearance of new politicians and presidential candidates will create conditions for our citizens to figure out the situation for themselves and elect an authority that will reflect their interests.”
Last week, Dzhioyeva called on all candidates to ignore the March vote and recognize her as president.