South Ossetia to hold second round of presidential elections - report

Alan Gagloyev, leader of the Nykhas Party, emerged with 38.55% of the vote in the first round. The vote is significant as it ties into the overall political climate in the region.

 A woman votes during a parliamentary election in Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgia, June 9, 2019. (photo credit: Kazbek Basayev/Reuters)
A woman votes during a parliamentary election in Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgia, June 9, 2019.
(photo credit: Kazbek Basayev/Reuters)

South Ossetia is set to hold a second round of its presidential elections on Sunday, with incumbent President Anatoly Bibilov vying with rival Alan Gagloyev for the top spot in the country, Russian news outlet TASS reported.

The second round follows the first round of voting held in mid-April, which saw none of the five candidates emerge with at least 50% of the votes. 

Gagloyev, leader of the Nykhas Party, emerged with 38.55% of the vote in the first round, while incumbent Bibilov only received 34.95%, according to TASS. 

The vote is significant as it ties into the overall political climate in the region.

The breakaway state has a long complex history dating back to when the entire region was under Soviet control. Officially, South Ossetia is recognized by most countries as being part of Georgia, though Georgia has no de facto control over it. 

South Ossetia is inhabited by the ethnic Ossetians, as is North Ossetia-Alania, which is one of the subject republics of the Russian Federation and a sovereign part of Russia.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia August 24, 2018. (credit: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia August 24, 2018. (credit: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Wars have been fought over the area in the past, most notably the 12-day Russo-Georgian War of 2008, which saw Russia back the breakaway states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This war was a Russian victory and while internationally the breakaways have little to no recognition, Georgia has lost control over them.

Further, in late March, South Ossetia announced that it had wanted to organize a referendum on formally joining the Russian Federation, and it had officially begun doing so in mid-April.

This, alongside holding elections, has sparked backlash from Georgia, which still claims sovereignty over the area.

Roman Meitav contributed to this report.