TSKHINVAL, June 1, (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia's ruling Unity Party has garnered 44.58% of the vote in parliamentary elections according to initial figures, the former Georgian republic's top election body said on Monday.
The figures were released after 88.42% of ballots had been counted.
The Central Election Committee said the Communist Party had garnered 23.64% of votes, the People's Party 22.47% and the opposition Fatherland 6.67%.
South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said in an address to the nation that the elections were a test of the state's independence. "And we have proved it. We deserve to live in an independent state," he said.
The elections are the first in South Ossetia since Russia recognized its independence, following a five-day war with Georgia who launched an attack to try and regain control over the region in August.
Russia's independent Ekho Moskvy radio said citing a South Ossetian opposition leader, Albert Dzhusoyev, that the authorities had forced people to vote.
Opponents of the current president earlier said they would boycott the elections of the 34-seat assembly and seek early presidential elections.
More than 70 observers from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Abkhazia, Nagorny-Karabakh and Russia were involved in monitoring Sunday's poll. Russian monitors reported minor violations.