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Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

United Abkhazia’s move into opposition prompts exodus of members

Ever since the 2011 Presidential election, it was unclear whether United Abkhazia was still a government party. Unlike former President Bagapsh, Alexander Ankvab had never been a member, and its Chairman Daur Tarba did not return as Vice Premier in the new government. Moreover, United Abkhazia did not perform particularly well in the 2012 Parliamentary elections, returning only 3 of its 11 candidates (most seats were won by independents). Now, at the 5th national congress in which he was reelected as Chairman (and which followed a series of regional congresses), Tarba has announced that United Abkhazia is officially becoming an opposition party.

Even before the announcement, Vice President Mikhail Logua had renounced his membership, but in recent days a flood of officials has followed in his footsteps, including Vice Premier Alexander Stranichkin, five Out of seven governors, Mayor of Sukhum Alias Labakhua and all three of its MPs.

Both the number of officials that previously enjoyed membership of United Abkhazia, and the ease with which they now renounce it, illustrate to what extent United Abkhazia has simply been a party of power.

The two questions that now present themselves are whether United Abkhazia can survive and perhaps develop something akin to an ideology, and whether there will arise a new party of power. The recent announcement by veterans movement Amtsakhara that it would become a fully fledged political party has been interpreted as a move in precisely that direction. President Ankvab, Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaia and First Vice Premier Indira Vardania are all members of Aitaira, but that party has been all but inactive since Ankvab became Prime Minister under Bagapsh in 2005.

The perseverance of United Abkhazia would be positive for the health of Abkhazian politics. With its well established party infrastructure, it has a real chance of becoming a third force besides the government and the old opposition led by Raul Khajimba.

In the meantime, United Abkhazia has condemned what it calls attempts by the government to discredit it.

Filed under: Abkhazia, ,

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