News / Europe

Armenians Re-elect Their President, Debate Level of Fraud

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian casts his ballot during presidential election in Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 18, 2013.
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian casts his ballot during presidential election in Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 18, 2013.
James Brooke
— As Armenians debated their presidential election, European observers gave cautious endorsements to the Monday vote that re-elected President Serzh Sargsian.

"This election showed improvement, but lacked genuine competition," said Tonino Picula, head of the parliamentary observer team of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

More encouraging words came from Karin Woldseth, leader of observers from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
 
“Armenia is on the right track to fulfill their obligations as a new democratic country in Europe,” said Woldseth, a Norwegian parliamentarian.

Then protesters stormed the press conference.

"You're legitimizing an illegal vote by your declarations!" shouted one protester, Artur Minasian.

By the official count, the President won 59 percent of the vote. His closest rival, U.S.-born former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovhannisyan, won 37 percent.

On Tuesday, people in Yerevan debated this question: was the fraud big enough to cover a gap of 22 percentage points?

Yes, said opposition candidate Hovhannisyan who addressed hundreds of supporters gathered on Liberty Square.

“The voting results do not reflect the Armenian citizens' will,” Hovannisyan said. “The elections involved mass irregularities. I am the president-elect of Armenia."

He gave Mr. Sargsian until Wednesday to concede defeat. He promised another rally that day.

'Rampant violations'

Hovhannisyan supporters said they have hundreds of reports of illegal ballot stuffing or fraudulent ballot counting.

Sara Anjargolian, a lawyer at the rally, said she read reports of voting violations on Facebook pages of human rights groups, then went to Hovhannisyan’s headquarters to read reports coming in from voting stations.

“There were rampant violations - everything from ballot stuffing, and not one or two, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds that were being stuffed for the sitting president,” she said. “And intimidation. Everything under the sun.”

But Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for Mr. Sargsian's ruling Republican Party, called the vote "the best in the history of independent Armenia."

Political analysts noted that last May, the Republican Party won 52 percent of seats in Armenia’s parliament. More recently, all pre-election polls indicated that voters heavily favored  President Sargsian. After polls closed Monday night, a Gallup exit poll gave the president 58 percent of votes cast. On Tuesday morning, the Central Elections Commission gave him 58.64 percent.

Moscow approves

On Tuesday, the clearest election endorsement came from Armenia’s closest ally, Russia.

Sergei Lebedev, a former director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, headed a team of observers sent here from other former Soviet nations.

“Some minor irregularities that were spotted could not have affected the overall results of the presidential election,” Lebedev said. Armenia’s presidential election “fully meets generally recognized international norms and national electoral law,” he said.

Lebedev said violations were spotted but not enough to affect the overall results of the presidential election. He concluded that Armenia’s election fully meets generally recognized international law.

Russia maintains 5,000 troops in Armenia. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned President Sargsian to congratulate him on his reelection.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid