Rebel South Ossetia annuls poll results

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The supreme court in the Georgian rebel region of South Ossetia annulled Tuesday the results of a poll which handed a surprise victory to a female candidate in a blow to the Kremlin.

The supreme court said there were violations in the polls that gave ex-education minister Alla Dzhioyeva victory in the second-round run-off against Anatoly Bibilov despite his strong support from the region's patron Moscow.

"The supreme court of South Ossetia has declared the presidential elections to be invalid," it said in a statement quoted by the official local news agency.

It said that the decision was based on illegal actions by Dzhioyeva's supporters on election day and pressure on the election commission. The ruling came after a complaint by Bibilov's party.

The annulment plunged the rebel statelet into crisis, with parliament saying it would have an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation.

Dzhioyeva, speaking on the popular Russian radio Echo of Moscow, took issue with the court's actions.

"They contradict the conclusions of the observers who stated that the polls were conducted without violations," she said, accusing the court officials of exceeding their powers.

Earlier in the day hundreds of her supporters took to the streets in protest at delayed results.

Some chanted "Victory! Victory!" as they rallied briefly in the central square before marching through the snow-covered streets.

Georgia said fair elections were impossible on a territory "occupied" by Russian troops stationed there since the war, where most ethnic Georgian inhabitants had been expelled during the conflict.

Whoever wins in the end will not however enjoy wide recognition as the "president" of South Ossetia, since the region is recognised as independent only by Russia and a handful of far-flung states after the 2008 war.

The West, which insists South Ossetia is an integral part of Georgia, has condemned the elections as illegitimate.

The population of South Ossetia is also disputed, with the rebel authorities claiming 70,000 while Georgia says the figure is no more than 15,000.

© 2011 AFP

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