S. Ossetia results on hold in female candidate uproar

The Supreme Court of South Ossetia has banned the Caucasus republic’s electoral body from announcing preliminary results of Sunday’s presidential run-off. The court says it got a complaint about unlawful action by supporters of one of the candidates.

The republic’s Unity party claims that Alla Dzhioeva’s allies are guilty of bribery and putting pressure on voters, as well as illegal campaigning. The party, which supports the other candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, also says the Central Electoral Commission failed to react to the wrongdoing. The complaint will be considered in the course of the day and the court’s decision will follow later on Monday, before which the preliminary results will not be announced.

Dzhioeva herself says she is being subjected to a smear campaign. Outgoing leader Eduard Kokoity has said that a woman cannot rule the republic, explaining “the Caucasus is the Caucasus”. If the former Minister of Education does win, she will become the first woman president in the traditionally patriarchal Caucasus.

Dzhioeva is seen as an opposition force in the republic, while head of the Emergencies Ministry Anatoly Bibilov is perceived as the Moscow-backed candidate from the establishment.

The first round of the vote earlier this month failed to produce a clear winner.

The earliest preliminary results, already announced by the Central Electoral Commission, give Dzhioeva 56.7 per cent, which would make her the winner. Bibilov took around 40 per cent of the counted votes.

As many as 72 per cent of registered voters (of whom there are 40,000 in total) are thought to have taken part.

Despite warnings about possible provocations and clashes, no disorder was apparent in the republic’s capital Tskhinval on Sunday.

Along with Abkhazia, South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the 1990s. Following the Georgian invasion of August 2008, both republics were recognized by Moscow as independent states.