Voters in Abkhazia – a region seeking independence from Georgia – have failed to form a full parliament after Sunday’s elections. They have chosen representatives for 18 out of 35 seats. There were no candidates with a clear majority in the remaining 17.
But Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh said the poll showed the region was ready for self-rule: “Our people have made their choice and will not stray from the path.” Tbilisi lost control of the province in the 1990s, after a bloody war of independence, but it wants it back.
President Mikhail Saakashvili said the poll was illegal, as long as Georgian refugees could not return home: “Nearly half a million people have been evicted from Abkhazia with foreign assistance.” Election officials said turnout was over 40 percent, well above a stated threshold. There will be a second round of voting in a few weeks to decide the remaining seats.