Sergey Shamba

Sergey Shamba (Abkhaz: ) is the foreign minister of the Republic of Abkhazia since December 15 2004. He was previously foreign minister from 1997 until June 2004. He served under seven Prime Ministers in that period, despite being politically opposed to the government of President Vladislav Ardzinba.

Shamba has been in politics since the age of 24, and has been heavily involved in Abkhazia's struggle for independence. Before becoming foreign minister, he served as head of the Council of Ministers of Abkhazia and as head of the Abkhazian People's Front, a leading opposition movement around the time of the Georgian-Abkhaz war.

Throughout his time as foreign minister, it has often fell to Shamba to defend Abkhazia's separation from Georgia in the international media. He has been a strong supporter of Abkhazian independence, and has flatly opposed any attempts at reunification with Georgia. Though he has headed several Abkhaz delegations to United Nations-sponsored talks with Georgia, Abkhazia has failed to receive any international recognition.

As foreign minister, Shamba has also dealt with several leaders of non-government organizations, meeting, among others, International Red Crescent Organization president Jean Michel Corbot. He succeeded in gaining USAID assistance for several reconstruction projects in Sukhumi.

On June 14, 2004, Shamba resigned as foreign minister, citing a number of reasons, such as the murder, five days before, of fellow opposition leader Garri Aiba and the upcoming presidential elections. After his resignation, he openly called for the entire government to stand aside.

Shamba was one of the favorites to receive the nomination of the newly merged Amtsakhara/United Abkhazia opposition movement at the October 2004 presidential elections. However, on July 20, 2004, the movements named former prime minister Sergei Bagapsh as their joint candidate. Shamba still participated in the election, coming in third place with 9.9% of the vote. New elections were held, however, because of a dispute between the first and second place finishers, former Prime Ministers Sergei Bagapsh and Raul Khadjimba, who later agreed to run together on a national unity ticket. Shamba, meanwhile, did not run in these elections, and was reappointed as the foreign minister when the new administration took office.

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