South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity, who has led the breakaway republic since 2001, announced his resignation today under a deal reached with the opposition on Friday.
"I am stepping down in order to fight for further consolidation of society and the strengthening of South Ossetian statehood," Kokoity announced at the government house in the capital, Tskhinvali.
The resignation comes 13 days after presidential elections failed to produce a clear winner to replace Kokoity, who was not running for another term.
Kokoity named Prime Minister Vadim Brovtsev acting president until new elections are held on March 25, 2012. The appointment, which takes effect on December 11, is also part of the deal reached with opposition leader and former presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva.
Kokoity said he agreed to the deal in order to avert an outcome like Ukraine's 2004 "orange revolution."
"No political ambitions are worth spilling blood over," he said.
The situation in restive South Ossetia, which declared independence from Georgia in 2008, heated up after Dzhioyeva won the November 27 runoff against a Kremlin-backed rival, according to preliminary results. Two days later, the republic's Supreme Court annulled the voting results, citing violations.
Supporters of Dzhioyeva, who has declared herself president despite the court’s ruling, have been holding demonstrations on the main square of the republic’s capital, Tskhinvali, ever since.
In exchange for Kokoity’s resignation, Dzhioyeva has agreed to urge her supporters to go home.
Prior to resigning, Kokoity announced the appointment of Eldar Kokoyev as a justice on the Constitutional Court. Kokoyev lost his position as deputy prosecutor general under the deal with the opposition.
Two other senior officials are also resigning as part of the deal: Supreme Court Chairman Atsamaz Bichenov and Prosecutor General Taimuraz Khugayev. The president submitted their resignations to the parliament earlier on Saturday.