Tensions rise in rebel South Ossetia after invalid poll
The rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia was Wednesday in political crisis as a female opposition leader who unexpectedly won elections declared herself president despite the invalidation of the polls.
Alla Dzhioyeva's surprise weekend defeat of a candidate backed by the local leadership and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stunned observers but was rapidly annulled by a ruling from the the region's supreme court.
Dzhioyeva campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket against pro-Kremlin candidate Anatoly Bibilov and accused the impoverished region's rulers of mismanaging the funds South Ossetia receives from Moscow following Russia's 2008 war with Georgia.
Moscow recognised the independence of South Ossetia and fellow breakaway region of Abkhazia shortly after the conflict despite other world powers insisting they remained an integral part of Georgia.
In its first formal statement on the disputed vote, the Russian foreign ministry called "on all political sides to respect decisions that were adopted in accordance with the law by the supreme authorities" of South Ossetia.
But Dzhioyeva refused to accept the vote's annulment and announced the formation of her own "state council".
"The state council will function until the legitimate authorities are formed," she told the local official news agency RES.
We will be insisting on our demand not to strip us of our constitutional rights," she added in an interview with Moscow Echo radio.
The supreme court of South Ossetia has scheduled a new election for March 25. The election commission had Dzhioyeva leading Sunday's runoff ballot with 56.7 percent when the vote was annulled on account of alleged irregularities.
© 2011 AFP