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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

South Ossetia Holds Election For President

The breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia was holding its first presidential election Sunday, in defiance of fierce opposition from authorities in Tbilisi.

Six candidates are contesting the vote, with Ludwig Chibirov, chairman of the separatist republic's parliament or Supreme Soviet, and Vyacheslav Gabarev, former prime minister, as favorites, according to Itar-Tass.

The parliament voted in September to elect a president as head of state.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze condemned the move, saying it contravened both the Georgian Constitution and accords reached between Tbilisi and separatists last August.

These established that the status of the breakaway republic could only be broached at joint consultations attended by mediators from Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Shevardnadze also warned that the holding of such an election risked undermining the fragile peace process underway in the region.

Conflict broke out between Tbilisi and the South Ossetia in 1990, when Georgian authorities annulled the republic's autonomous status.

In 1991, Georgia lost control over the region after a defeat by South Ossetian forces. South Ossetians then voted overwhelmingly to join North Ossetia, a neighboring republic which is part of the Russian Federation.

A precarious peace has held in the republic since the deployment of a mainly Russian peace force in 1992.