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Abkhazia parliament calls on president to quit

The parliament of Abkhazia, a small breakaway republic in the Caucasus, has voted for the resignation of the president, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

The parliament’s action came after media reports that President Alexander Ankvab had fled the capital Sukhumi after protestors seized his office earlier in the week.

With the backing of opposition supporters, 20 of the 21 deputies present in the Abkhazian parliament called on Ankvab to stand down, the Russian agencies reported.

Earlier, in a statement from his stronghold in his hometown of Gudauta, Ankvab denied that he had resigned.

“Rumours of my resignation are false,” he said, as reported by the Interfax news agency. “I continue to carry out my responsibilities as president.”

Ankvab has been at the helm of the Georgian breakaway state since 2011.

Abkhazia’s parliament also passed a vote of no confidence in the prime minister Leonid Lakerbaia.

“The president must accept the resignation of the government, the prime minister and then resign himself,” said the vice-president of the parliament, Algour Kharazia, on the Russian TV channel, Russia 24.

The Kremlin has dispatched Vladislav Sourkov, an advisor to President Putin to meet Ankvab in Gudaut and the leader of the opposition Raul Khadjimba in the capital Sukhumi, according to the Ria Novosti news agency.

“Russia is following with attention and concern the events in this friend republic,” a government statement said, calling on all sides to respect the rule of law.

Abkhazia, is a small territory bordered by Russia and the Black Sea, which declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s.

Russia supports Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region on the Georgian border. Moscow recognised the independence of the two territories after a brief war with Georgia in 2008.