|Repeat South Ossetian Election Campaign Gathers Momentum|
|February 12, 2012|
The run-up to the repeat election on March 24 for a new de facto president of Georgia's breakaway Republic of South Ossetia bears an uncanny resemblance to last November's election campaign. It too is shaping up to be a three-way struggle between the ruling authorities, the opposition, and Moscow, combining the same elements of farce and soap opera.
As of February 9, the Central Election Commission (TsIK) had accepted registration applications on behalf of 19 candidates, one of whom subsequently failed the mandatory Ossetian language test. Seventeen candidates registered for the November election, of whom six subsequently withdrew.
The 18 remaining hopefuls include parliamentarian Sergei Zasseyev, representing the opposition; former KGB head Leonid Tibilov; and Dmitry Medoyev, South Ossetia'sdiplomatic representative in Moscow. Medoyev is widely regarded as enjoying the backing of the Russian leadership. South Ossetian Emergency Situations Minister Anatoly Bibilov, whom Russia backed last fall, announced earlier this week that he would not run again, and he appealed to the other candidates in the November ballot to follow his example.
This time around, as last year, the TsIK refused to register prominent Moscow-based businessman and potential opposition candidate Albert Djussoyev on the grounds that he has not been permanently resident in South Ossetia for the past 10 years.
As deputy parliament speaker and presidential candidate Yury Dzitstsoity explained to RFE/RL earlier this week, the inauguration cannot legally take place unless/until the Supreme Court rescinds its decision to annul the results of the November 27 run-off, and the parliament similarly annuls its decree on holding the repeat election. One of Djioyeva's election campaign staff, Elina Margoyeva, nonetheless assured Regnum that the inauguration ceremony will go ahead as planned.
The Communist Party of South Ossetia, whose chairman, former parliament speaker Stanislav Kochiyev, is one of the presidential hopefuls, has appealed to Djioyeva not to risk destabilizing the political situation by proceeding with her inauguration. He urged her to register instead as a candidate for the March 25 ballot. To date she has refused to do so, arguing that she is already the republic's legitimately elected president.
Speaking on February 9 at a rally staged by the authorities in support of the March 25 elections, former Health Minister Djemal Djigkayev similarly called on Djioyeva not to go ahead with her planned inauguration, but to support those registered candidates in the March election who had backed her presidential bid in November. Djigkayev placed last of the 11 candidates in the November ballot, and backed Djioyeva in the run-off.
The South Ossetian Interior Ministry issued a statement on February 8 warning citizens not to participate in "mass public gatherings" for which the Tskhinvali municipal authorities have not granted permission. But Dzitstsoity expressed confidence that even if Djioyeva does stage her own inauguration, the authorities will not resort to brute force to prevent her.
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036
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