It was a 300-person-strong rally, but 58-year-old Alexander Ankvab, de facto vice-president of the breakaway region of Abkhazia and candidate for its de facto presidency, saw no need to address supporters with a microphone. And perhaps there was no need.
Abkhazia’s August 26 presidential vote, its second since recognition by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru as an independent country, is an election more about personalities than about policies, observers say.
“It’s sad,” commented Natela Akaba, head of the Public Chamber, a Sukhumi-based civil society watchdog group. “We don’t have real political parties here with individual platforms.”
The candidates themselves -- aside from Ankvab, they include de facto Prime Minister Sergei Shamba, 60, and 53-year-old opposition leader Raul Khajimba -- make no bones about it. “The program of each candidate is very similar. … There is no conflict of interest,” Ankvab told EurasiaNet.org.
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Paul Rimple is a Tbilisi-based freelance reporter.