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Kokoity reiterates he won’t seek re-election

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, May 6
The de facto South Ossetian President, Eduard Kokoity has reiterated his pledge that he will not be seeking re-election for the third term in the upcoming so called Presidential elections in Autumn. Speaking to the information agency RES, Kokoity commented on the information disseminated by various media outlets about an initiative to hold a referendum on giving one more term to the de facto President. “I remain devoted to my words and I am not going to raise my candidacy for the third presidential term at the upcoming elections,” Kokoity noted “I will not let anyone to violate constitution. The transition of power will be held strictly within the legislative dates,” he added.

A group of initiators, headed by the de facto Deputy Defence Minister of South Ossetia, Ibragim Gaseev, proposed holding a referendum in order to find out the opinion of the population on re-electing Kokoity for the third term. According to Gaseev, the initiative has been “widely supported” in different regions of the “republic”. “Collecting of signatures will be held in full accordance with the existing constitutional norms,” the de facto Deputy Minister noted “We will provide absolute transparency of the referendum and guarantee the trustworthiness and objectivity of its results,” he stated.

The group of initiators justifies their proposal by saying that “Kokoity has brought victories and independence for the republic.” “We will not allow anyone to unfold dirty political games under the cover of elections,” Gaseev told journalists “Referendum is a national initiative and a constitutional right for every citizen. Nobody can deprive them of this right,” he added.

Commenting on Gaseev’s initiative, Kokoity said that he has no right to ban the nation express its opinion. “I understand very well, that it is a serious signal – a response reaction of the people on the attempts of destructive forces to shatter the situation in the republic ahead of the elections through provocations and manipulations. I myself will not let the criminals come to power,” the de facto President noted “I have always had the understanding and support of the South Ossetian nation and I know that this initiative will find its sensible resolution,” Kokoity pointed out, stressing that the so called presidential elections will be held according to the “constitutional norms”. “That’s why I will not be participating in the elections,” the de facto President said.

Kokoity’s “Presidential” term expires in November 2011. Earlier in December he excluded the possibility of running for the third term, saying that he “respects the constitution.” “All pre-election promises given in 2001 I have met and even exceeded them. I have always said that I would not be running for the third term and change the country’s constitution,” news agency Osinform quoted him as saying. “Presidential elections of 2011 will go smoothly,” Kokoity added.

Later in February Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the Kremlin is considering substituting Kokoity with the so called South Ossetian Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Medoev. However, Medoev neither confirmed, nor denied the reports. At the same time, Russian media suggested that Kokoity would like to see the so called General Prosecutor, Teimuraz Khugaev as his successor. However, the Russian analysts have said “Kokoity has lost his electorate.” The analysts suggest that the “negative attitude towards the incumbent leader might spread to Khugaev too.”

Tbilisi has repeatedly stated that the elections held in Georgia’s breakaway regions by the de facto authorities are “illegitimate”.