South Ossetian deadlock ends as President steps down?
Eduard Kokoity announced his resignation Friday, at the government house in Tskhinval – just 13 days after presidential elections failed to produce a clear winner to replace him.
"I am stepping down in order to fight for the further consolidation of society and the strengthening of South Ossetian statehood," Kokoity announced.
As part of the agreement, Kokoity named Prime Minister Vadim Brovtsev as acting president. Brovtsev will stay on until new elections are held on March 25, 2012, when opposition leader and former candidate Alla Dzhioeva – who had been banned from running – will also be allowed to participate.
Former candidate and opposition leader Alla Dzhioeva claims the now former president has created a Constitutional Court and made a number of last-minute decisions which violate the agreement they signed. As a response, Dzhioeva says she is prepared to bring people back onto the streets of the capital, Tskhinval.
After preliminary results showed that Dzhioeva, a 62-year-old former education minister, won the November presidential election, another candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, applied to the Supreme Court of South Ossetia accusing Dzhioeva's team of violations during the vote. The court ordered the election results be annulled, and banned Dzhioeva from taking part in the next election. In turn, Dzhioeva submitted her own complaint, declaring herself to be the true president-elect.
She was not alone – hundreds of her supporters took to the streets of Tskhinval to protest the court’s decision. There have been ongoing negotiations between the conflicting sides since.
As it became more complicated, fears grew that the situation could turn violent. But Kokoity pledged that attempts to destabilize the country's political life would not be tolerated.
Representing the government and the opposition, Kokoity and Dzhioeva both put their signatures to Friday's agreement, ending two weeks of political deadlock. And in exchange for Kokoity’s resignation, Dzhioeva has agreed to urge her supporters to go home.
The decision is being seen as a breakthrough, according to RT’s Maria Finoshina reporting from Tskhinval. The situation has been extremely tense in recent days, so Kokoity’s decision came as a relief for many.
The now-former president said he agreed to the deal in order to avert an outcome like Ukraine's 2004 "Оrange Revolution," saying, "no political ambitions are worth spilling blood over."
He stated that he has no plans to leave South Ossetia – and will continue his work on getting the republic international recognition.