YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian was officially declared the winner of Armenia’s presidential election Sunday.
According to the final vote results released by the Central Election Commission, Sarkisian won 52.8 percent of some 1.63 million votes, which it said were cast by Armenia’s on Tuesday. Ter-Petrosian came in a distant second with 21.5 percent, followed by two other candidates, Artur Baghdasaryan and Vahan Hovannesian. The CEC said they won 16.7 percent and 6.1 percent respectively.
On Saturday, the US State Department congratulated the Armenian people on the presidential election
"We congratulate the people of Armenia on the active and competitive presidential election of February 19 and note the preliminary assessment of the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and Parliamentary Assembly that the election was "mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitmen’s and standards for democratic elections," said Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. Department of State.
"At the same time, we also note that international monitors identified significant problems with electoral procedures. Armenian election authorities have responded with the positive step of recounts in a number of jurisdictions," the statement said. "We urge the Government of Armenia to ensure these recounts are conducted comprehensively and transparently, investigate all allegations of irregularities, and implement steps to improve future elections. We also urge all political forces to continue observing the rule of law and to work peacefully and responsibly for a democratic Armenia."
Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian was arrested along with his brother Vartan and two other men outside Yerevan as he rode in a car late Saturday. In a statement, the Armenian police said the four men were armed and planned to "destabilize the situation in the capital." The statement said Vartan Jahangirian was "accidentally" wounded by a police officer while resisting arrest.
The arrest came just one day after Jahangirian publicly called the presidential election fraudulent and voiced support for Ter-Petrosian. He was promptly sacked as deputy prosecutor-general since government officials, by law, cannot become involved in political campaigns.
Other opposition members, Smbat Ayvazian and Aram Karapetian, were detained on Sunday. The police said they found a pistol in Ayvazian’s possession but would not specify if it was possessed illegally. Karapetian, who was held by the National Security Service, was also not immediately charged with any crime.
Kocharian raised the possibility of use of force on Saturday when he described the opposition protests as an "attempt to seize power by illegal means" and told Armenia’s top military and security officials to enforce "law and order" in the country. Kocharian also told the army command that he "will not allow anyone to play a shadowy role" in the post-election developmen’s.
Kocharian also dismissed Deputy Foreign Minister Armen Bayburtian and three other senior Armenian diplomats on Monday for violating a law, which prohibits diplomats and Foreign Ministry employees from engaging in political activity.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday, Bayburtian as well as Ruben Shugarian and Levon Khachatrian, Armenia’s ambassadors to Italy and Kazakhstan respectively, and Razmik Khumarian, an Armenian envoy in Ukraine expressed their solidarity with Ter-Petrosian. Bayburtian and the two ambassadors were promptly dismissed and stripped of their ambassadorial ran’s. Six other employees of the Foreign Ministry, including ministry spokesman Vladimir Karapetian, were also dismissed Monday for issuing a similar statement on Sunday in support of Ter-Petrosian.
The diplomats who resigned had close ties with Armenia’s former leadership, according to Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
"Their political views were known to us right from the beginning," he said. "They are either related to former senior officials or themselves held positions under the former authorities."