The former security chief in Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh has won the presidential election in the majority Armenian enclave.

Bako Sahakian was declared the winner Friday, with 85 percent of the vote in Thursday's balloting. He easily defeated his closest rival, Deputy Foreign Minister Masis Maylian, and three others in the five-person race.

Azerbaijan has denounced the election as illegal. The predominantly Armenian-inhabited area declared independence in 1988, but has no international recognition. The declaration triggered a six-year conflict that killed 35,000 people.

All five candidates support independence for the region. Analysts say Nagorno-Karabakh views international deliberations on Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province as a precedent for its own status.

Efforts to reach a final settlement on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh have so far been unsuccessful.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.