Abkhazia names interim president, sets election date

The parliament of Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia on Saturday named an interim president and set a date for new elections, Russian news agencies reported.

Parliamentary leader Valery Bganba was nominated as temporary president after Alexander Ankvab reportedly fled earlier in the week.

"This decision taken by the Abkhazia parliament is unlikely to be canceled and an early presidential election will be held on August 24," said senior official Abkhaz Nugzar Ashuba.

Abkhaz separatists declared independence after driving out Georgian troops in a civil war in the 1990s that killed several thousand people and forced a quarter of a million, mostly ethnic Georgians, out of the region.

Moscow recognised Abkhazia as independent in the wake of Russia's brief war with Georgia in 2008 and permanently stationed thousands of troops at military bases there -- a move that Tbilisi describes as occupation.

With the exception of a handful of far-flung states, the rest of the world still regards Abkhazia as part of Georgian territory.

Ankvab, who has been at the helm of the breakaway region since 2011, was forced to flee the capital Sukhumi after protestors seized his office earlier in the week.

On Thursday evening, 20 of the 21 deputies present in the Abkhazian parliament reportedly called on Ankvab to stand down -- which he refused.

Hiding out in his stronghold of Gadauta, Ankvab on Saturday repeated that he "categorically disagrees" with parliament's decision.