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Candidates boycott S. Ossetian repeat election

By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, February 7
Defeated South Ossetian presidential candidate, Antony Bibilov, said that he would not participate in a repeat election on March 25.

“I will not put forward my candidature for the new polls in March so that our citizens can avoid conflict and make their choice in calm surroundings,” Bibilov told reporters in Tskhinvali.

Kremlin protege Bibilov, who lost November's annulled election to Alla Jioyeva, called on fellow candidates to follow his lead and refrain from running in the repeat poll in order to reduce tension.

Jioyeva, earlier, also refused to run in the repeat election, but for different reasons. She claims victory in the November election, and calls the new election illegal. Jioyeva says she will hold a self-inauguration as the new president on February 10.

According to Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashadzkidze, Russia is responsible for current developments in Tskhinvali. “The situation in Tskhinvali is the logical result of Russia’s vicious policy towards the occupied territory,” he said at a briefing Monday.

"This is our territory, our citizens live there and we are carefully observing the developments. We hope no bloodshed will take place there,” he maintained.

According to analyst Paata Zakareishvili, it is not surprising that Bibilov will not participate in the repeat elections as he has little support. As for Jioyeva’s self-inauguration, Zakareishvili says it will not be considered legitimate.

Bibilov, the former emergencies minister, was defeated by opposition leader Alla Jioyeva in a run-off vote in November. The South Ossetian Supreme Court later declared the results invalid and barred Jioyeva from the March elections after Bibilov accused her of vote-rigging. Jioyeva, South Ossetia’s former education minister, denounced the ruling and declared herself president.