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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs