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Vote Results Awaited in Georgia's Abkhazia Republic - 2004-10-04

Officials in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia are counting ballots from Sunday's election to choose a successor to President Vladislav Ardzinba.

Preliminary results are expected sometime Monday.

Five candidates were on the ballot, with Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba considered the leading contender. Abkhaz power company chief Sergei Bagapsh was thought to be his most serious opponent.

Central Election Commission chief Sergei Smyr said 62 percent of Abkhazia's 121,000 eligible voters casting ballots.

Abkhazia declared itself independent of Georgia in 1993 after a two-year civil war, and has been led by Mr. Ardzinba ever since. Authorities in Tbilisi say the election was illegitimate, but they have promised not to interfere.