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Kadyrov Wins Chechen Presidential Election - 2003-10-06

The man viewed as the Kremlin's candidate in Chechnya's presidential election, Akhmad Kadyrov, has won the race, according to official, final results. He defeated six other candidates.

With a majority of the votes counted, the chairman of the region's election commission says Mr. Kadyrov is the official winner, with just more than 81 percent of the vote.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Kadyrov said he did not foresee making any major personnel changes in his government. He also again ruled out asking for any special political status for Chechnya.

As Mr. Kadyrov put it, Chechnya's political status as a constituent of the Russian Federation was determined during the constitutional referendum in Chechnya earlier this year. Moreover, the Kremlin appointee added that he could little without the people's trust.

Mr. Kadyrov said assistants and experts were useful and even necessary, but he said he needs the trust of the electorate first and foremost.

During a cabinet meeting in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the results, saying they are proof of the people's desire for peace.

Mr. Putin says the act of voting shows that the people of Chechnya still have hope for a better life and for a more peaceful future.

Voter turnout in Sunday's election is said to have exceeded 80 percent, a figure that raised immediate doubt among journalists on the scene, who say the number of voters appeared relatively low.

Western rights group boycotted the vote. They objected to polling being held as long as the fighting between Russian federal forces and Chechen separatists continues.

Critics say the election result was a foregone conclusion after the remaining candidates who were polling higher than Mr. Kadyrov either withdrew, or were removed, from the race.

They say the real test now is whether Mr. Kadyrov can secure the peace in a republic that has known only war for the past nine years.