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CAUCASUS > Fraud claims mar Sarkisian’s victory

YEREVAN

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Serzh Sarkisian’s Pepublican Party takes 44 percent of the vote.

Serzh Sarkisian’s Pepublican Party takes 44 percent of the vote.

Armenia’s governing party yesterday won parliamentary elections seen as a test of the ex-Soviet state’s fragile democracy but opposition leaders alleged violations and vowed protests.

President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party took 44.05 percent of the vote after all ballots from May 6’s contest were counted, the Central Election Commission said. Its outgoing coalition partner turned poll rival, the Prosperous Armenia party led by a millionaire former arm wrestling champion, came second with 30.20 per cent.

Trailing far behind, the third-place opposition Armenian National Congress bloc scraped into parliament with 7.10 percent, according to final preliminary results posted on the commission’s website. Three other parties, Heritage, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Rule of Law also managed to secure minor representation in the legislative body by scoring just over five percent. The authorities had promised Armenia’s fairest ever polls as they sought to avoid a repeat of protests which ended in clashes between riot police and opposition supporters after disputed presidential elections in 2008 that left 10 people dead.

Criticism from OSCE
European election observers from the OSCE praised the election process as competitive but said it had been undermined by a series of democratic failings including pressure on voters and an inadequate complaints process.

The observer mission said that the freedom of assembly and expression were generally respected during the campaign but the lack of public confidence in the electoral process was “an issue of great concern.” It also said that pressure on voters and an inadequate complaints process created an “unequal playing field,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Local media have also reported allegations of polling-day violations including incidents of parties bribing voters but it was not clear how widespread such incidents were.

May/08/2012

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