September 20, 2011
Due to the unexpected death of President Sergey Bagapsh on 29 May 2011, Abkhazia held a special presidential election on 26 August 2011. The Central Election Commission cited the Constitution of Abkhazia in its decision to hold elections three months after Bagapsh’s passing which also marked the third anniversary of the Russian Federation’s formal recognition of Abkhazia.
Abkhazia’s 2011 presidential elections represent an important step in the nation’s development as a stable state. The normative structure in which this election took place signalled Abkhazia’s enduring commitment to the democratic process. Citizen participation in politics is vital to a strong democratic sentiment and the emergence of Abkhaz civil society before and during this election as well as the government’s demonstrated reliance on the tenets of good governance strengthens Abkhazia’s right to independence.
Abkhazia has continued to make progress in meeting international democratic standards in both political and civil society. Due to the success of the 2009 election, it is seen as important that the upcoming election meet or exceed the standards set by that election. Abkhaz authorities recognize that continuity and consistency are essential to a fully mature democratic society and intend to demonstrate this on Election Day and thereafter.
In August 2011, the organization released a Guide for the 2011 Presidential elections that provided background on Abkhazia’s history, current government and the on-going territorial dispute with Georgia. The guide also provides analysis of the presidential candidates, election issues and media observation during the campaigning period.
To read this guide, please click here or go to our publications section.
Due to Abkhazia’s status as a de facto but unrecognised state, it is important that this election be viewed internationally as a step towards successful democracy and equitable treatment of all Abkhazian residents, regardless of ethnicity. As a representative of Abkhazia in the international community, the Unrepresented Nations and People’s organization conducted an election observation mission to the territory during the election. After meeting with Abkhaz officials, members of domestic NGOs, political activists, party leaders, the presidential candidates and monitoring proceedings on Election Day, mission members are currently compiling a report of their findings.
The UNPO EOM follows past fact-finding missions by the UNPO to Abkhazia in the 1990s and 2006 that provided updates to the international community on the situation facing the Abkhaz people at times of particularly heightened tension. The mission also builds on the UNPO’s democracy promotion programmes that have included EOM missions to Zanzibar, Assyrian areas of northern Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan and diaspora voting for the Tibetan Central Administration in May 2011.
To read the press release announcing the Election Observation Mission to Abkhazia in August 2011, please click here.