Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
When Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia and held its first elections in 1994, Ardzinba was victorious and became the entity's first president. He was re-elected in 1999, although he was the only candidate running for office. The international community does not recognise his presidency, and a referendum on independence that he organized in 1999 was also declared invalid. He has stated that independence from Georgia is not negotiable, and has tried to align the state with Russia. As President, he has met several world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin, the most recent presidents of Russia.
During the last years of his presidency, Ardzinba faced criticism for both failing to bring stability to Abkhazia and his increasingly low public profile. He has not appeared in public since 2002. As a result, the role of governing the state had been increasingly left to Prime Minister Raul Khajimba.
He has been in extremely poor health and has been undergoing treatment in Moscow for some time. Despite increasing calls from the opposition (particularly the Amtsakhara movement) for him to resign, he had stated that he would finish his term, which was supposed to end in October 2004, but in fact did not end until February 12, 2005, due to disputes over the election of his successor. There were also calls for him to be impeached, but although the Abkhaz Constitution allows for this, the process would likely have not been completed before the end of his term, and no serious steps were taken to bring it about. He was unable to run for a third term, due to constitutional restrictions, and it is unlikely that his health would have enabled him to do so even if this were allowed.
He was replaced by the winner of the presidential election of 12 January 2005, Sergei Bagapsh. A previous election had been held in late 2004, but it had resulted in considerable controversy over the results.
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