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Leader of Georgia rebel region Abkhazia resigns

02 june 2014, 14:25
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Alexander Ankvab. Photo courtesy of kavkaz-uzel.ru
Alexander Ankvab. Photo courtesy of kavkaz-uzel.ru

The leader of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, said on Sunday he was resigning following days of political upheaval on Russia's southern flank, AFP reports.

"I am resigning from the post of the president of the Republic of Abkhazia" with a view to maintaining stability in the country, he said in a statement.

He resigned under pressure from the opposition which mustered a series of rallies and stormed the presidency building last week.

Ankvab's opponents blame him for the statelet's economic and social troubles. The region's parliament had called on the president to quit last Thursday.

The leader said he was stepping down following consultations with aides and supporters, noting that the latest events threatened the fate of the tiny region.

Parliament had also demanded the resignation of prime minister Leonid Lakerbaya, but he refused to quit.

"I have not resigned. And I will not do so under these conditions," he told Russian news agency Interfax.

A lush strip of land on the balmy Black Sea coast, Abkhazia is home to some 240,000 people and is heavily dependent on Russian aid.

Ankvab was elected leader of Abkhazia, which is recognised only by a handful of states including Russia, in 2011 after the death of Sergei Bagapsh, who had led the statelet from 2005.

Abkhazia borders the region of Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi which hosted the Winter Olympic Games in February.

Abkhaz separatists declared independence after driving out Georgian troops in a civil war in the 1990s that killed several thousand people and forced a quarter of a million, mostly ethnic Georgians, out of the region.

Moscow recognised Abkhazia as independent in the wake of Russia's brief war with Georgia in 2008 and permanently stationed thousands of troops at military bases there in a move that Tbilisi describes as occupation.

Abkhazia's parliament on Saturday named an interim president -- Valery Bganba -- and set a date for new elections, Russian news agencies reported.

On Sunday, Moscow said it would work actively with the new Abkhazia president, government and parliament, said Vladyslav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was dispatched by the Kremlin to the region on Wednesday.

"The key objective has been reached -- a peaceful resolution of the crisis," Surkov said, according to Russian news agency Ria Novosti.


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