The changes made by parliament today to the constitutional law “On the Election of Deputies of the People’s Assembly – the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia” make it possible to open polling stations in foreign states that do not recognize the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia, [and] in which an Abkhaz diaspora lives compactly. That is how presidential administration first deputy head Dmitrii Shamba commented on the draft law adopted by parliament today “On Making Amendments to the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Abkhazia ‘On the Election of Deputies to the People’s Assembly – the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia.’”
The draft law was drafted by the presidential administration, and on 17 July acting President Valerii Bganba submitted it for the parliament’s consideration.
In his words, the draft envisages two changes.
First, at the request of the head of a diplomatic or plenipotentiary representative of the Republic of Abkhazia in a foreign state the Central Election Commission of Abkhazia establishes polling stations outside the borders of the Republic of Abkhazia, given the consent of the competent organ of the foreign state in question, in the event that the legislation of that state requires such consent.
Second, the district election commission of a polling station established outside the borders of the Republic of Abkhazia is formed by the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Abkhazia no later than 30 days prior to voting on the recommendation of the head of the diplomatic or plenipotentiary representative of the Republic of Abkhazia in the foreign state.
Dmitrii Shamba stressed that in the initial draft which the parliament reviewed on Wednesday 16 July, the need for the diplomatic or plenipotentiary representative to formally request the Central Election Commission to establish a polling station outside the territory of the RA was not included and, most important, nor was the stipulation that the consent of the competent organ of the state in question was required.
“The presence of such consent is obligatory only in the event that the legislation of the state where the diaspora community lives demands the obtaining of special permission to hold on its territory an election for the head of a foreign state,” Dmitrii Shamba noted.
The first draft of the law, in his words, was not juridically flawless, and besides the necessary preliminary hearings in parliament did not take place as required. The new draft, by contrast, was adopted in accordance with all the required procedures – hearings on it were held on Friday. The fact that the district electoral commission is formed by the CEC is an innovation, Shamba said. “Within the territory of Abkhazia district electoral commissions are established by the regional ones, but since regions are not created beyond the borders of Abkhazia, the district will be ascribed to the fifth electoral district. Previously, when we held elections in Cherkessk and Moscow, district commissions were established by the plenipotentiary ambassador, but now, in accordance with the draft that has been adopted, those powers are transferred to the CEC. It will form the district electoral commission on the recommendation of the head of the diplomatic or plenipotentiary representation,” Dmitrii Shamba said in clarification.
“By adopting the given law, Parliament has removed the legal obstacles in the existing legislation to establishing in states that do not recognize the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia, but where citizens of our country live compactly and have the right to vote, a polling station for the presidential election,” stressed the presidential administration first deputy head.
He recalled that in accordance with the law “On Citizenship of the Republic of Abkhazia,” persons of Abkhaz (Abaza) nationality, independent of their place of residence and whether they hold the citizenship of a foreign state, are citizens of Abkhazia.