Amtsakhara is an important political movement and party in
Abkhazia, a de factoindependent republic in Caucasuswhose independence is recognized by Russiaand Nicaraguabut whom most of the international community considers as a part of Georgia.
Amtsakhara originally formed as an association of veterans of the
1992-93 Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, but have since broadened their membership to include the wider community. Before the foundation of Amtsakhara, the only notable opposition group had been the Aytayraparty. In recent times, Amtsakhara have taken over the leadership of the opposition movement. They have been able to give some force to the opposition, as veterans form a powerful force in Abkhazia, and until recently, President Vladislav Ardzinbahad been considered virtually untouchable.
Amtsakhara has lobbied for reform of the government in Abkhazia, such as a greater balance of powers between the branches of authority and an increase in the powers of Abkhaz lawmakers. They have also been successful in changing the procedure for amending the Constitution. Fact|date=June 2007
Amtsakhara was largely responsible for bringing down the government of
Gennady Gagulia, the predecessor of the current Prime Minister, Raul Khajimba. This had been the first time that a government had been forced to resign by public pressure, rather than being sacked by the President, Vladislav Ardzinba. Amtsakhara had lashed out at Gagulia for being inefficient and weak on crime Fact|date=June 2007, and public anger had boiled over at the association's congress. They had also threatened to organize a national rally if Gagulia did not step down.
As perhaps the only opposition group with the capability to challenge the Abkhazian government, they have been threatened at various times. On
April 19, 2003, their office was bombed, although there were no casualties. Two of their activists also died in a car bombing, which they accused the authorities of being complicit in. Fact|date=June 2007 In June 2004, Garri Aiba, one of Amtsakhara's leaders was shot dead while driving through the city. As a result, foreign minister and fellow Amtsakhara leader Sergey Shambaresigned in protest.
2003and early 2004, Amtsakhara lobbied for President Ardzinba to step down. In late 2003, they had asked parliament to come up with a means for impeaching him by mid-December, but this has not yet occurred. It is likely that they may pose a challenge to the ruling party at the November 2004 elections, when Ardzinba will be forced by the Constitution to step down.
Their chances of winning the 2004 elections initially suffered another blow in April,
2004, when several other opposition groups combined to form the United Abkhaziaalliance. However, in June 2004, Amtsakhara and United Abkhazia merged to form a combined front at the elections, after the Aiba assassination. On July 20, 2004, they named former prime minister Sergei Bagapshas their presidential candidate, ending rumors that they may put up multiple candidates due to their prior lack of a clear leader.
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