SUKHUM, August 24 (RIA Novosti) – Almost 44 percent of eligible voters have cast their ballots in the early presidential election underway in Abkhazia, a former Georgian republic that declared its independence in 2008, the central election committee said Sunday.
“According to the data submitted to the Abkhazian CEC, voter turnout across our country has reached 43.9 percent as of 2 p.m. [11:00 GMT],” Committee’s head Batal Tabagua told journalists.
The local law requires at least a 50-percent voter turnout. The early presidential election in the small Caucasus nation was scheduled back in May after mass protests and subsequent resignation of President Alexander Ankvab.
There are four candidates running for president: security service chief Aslan Bzhania, ex-Interior Minister Leonid Dzapshba, former Defense Minister Merab Kishmaria and opposition leader Raul Hajimba.
On May 29, Abkhazia’s parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaia and suggested President Alexander Ankvab resign voluntarily.
On May 31, the parliament scheduled an early presidential election for August 24, and elected its spokesman and interim president, Valery Bganba. On June 1, President Ankvab resigned.
Hajimba, who formerly served as the country’s vice president and prime minister, is tipped to be in the lead, with 51 percent of voters ready to support him, according to an August poll conducted by the Russian Institute of Social Marketing.