|Rebel Abkhazia fills 13 of 35 parliamentary seats|
|March 11, 2012|
Less than half of the legislature seats were filled Sunday following parliamentary elections in Georgia's breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia, authorities said.
According to the rebel statelet's Central Election Commission, 13 candidates won seats in the local parliament as the result of Saturday's election in which nearly 150 candidates stood for 35 seats. The second round of voting covering 22 election districts will take place on March 24.
Parliament is elected for a five-year term and currently dominated by the governing United Abkhazia party, which is competing for seats along with three other factions.
Leader of the local opposition, Raul Khadzhimba, is among the newly elected parliament members. The election commission put the turnout at 44.5 percent.
The polls in the region of some 240,000 people are unlikely to change Abkhazia's pro-Russian orientation or herald any shift towards more positive relations with Georgia.
The vote comes less than a month after Abkhazia's leader Alexander Ankvab survived an assassination attempt which killed one of his bodyguards.
Moscow recognised Abkhazia and another Kremlin-backed rebel region South Ossetia as independent states after the Georgia-Russia war in 2008.
Georgia says the polls are illegitimate because they are being held under Kremlin "occupation" -- a reference to thousands of Russian troops stationed there permanently since the 2008 war.
© AFP 2011. All rights reserved.
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