YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Prime Minister Srezh Sarkissian emerged as the winner of Tuesday’s presidential elections in Armenia, according to preliminary results announced by the Central Electoral Commission.
According to the CEC, 1,670,656 voters went to the polls.
Sarkissian led with 863,544 votes (51.7%), former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan was second with 351,306 votes (21%), former Parliament Speaker Arthur Baghdasaryan was third with 272,256 votes (16.2%) and Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member and Deputy Parliament Speaker Vahan Hovannesian garnered 100,876 (6%) votes.
International observers from the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, the CIS and others deemed that the elections were carried out according to the rule of law, despite some violations in different precincts.
Outgoing President Robert Kocharian issued a statement Wednesday congratulating the citizens of Armenia on the occasion of the elections
"The elections were free and fair, in compliance with the electoral legislation of the Republic of Armenia and in line with Armenia’s international commitmen’s," Kocharian stated. "I express gratitude to all members of electoral commissions and observers, but first of all to you–the voters–for holding the elections on a proper level. It was an important trial for our state and reinforcing democracy."
In his statement Kocharian urged citizens not to create tension in the aftermath of the elections.
"Elections are always an axis of political controversies and can lead to the rise of the level of tension and partition in the society," Kocharian said. "Dignified defeat is also an important component of democratic culture. During this week following the elections it is important for every citizen of the Republic of Armenia to recognize that victory cannot be divided into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs.’"
The ARF announced that the party will issue a statement Thursday and assess the outcome of the vote.
“One thing is clear: we have lost,” ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian told reporters. “I can’t say to what extent that reflects the will of the people, to what extent that was the result of fraud. In any case, our organization is able to overcome such difficulties.”
Markarian said the ARF is examining fraud reports received from polling stations across Armenia and may challenge official results there.
Meanwhile, Ter-Petrosian rejected the official vote tally, saying that the ballot was rigged and must be re-run.
A statement by Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir likewise alleged that Tuesday’s voting was accompanied by “numerous falsifications” and the intimidation of opposition proxies by government loyalists. The party demanded the authorities “reconsider” the published vote results and recount ballots in more than 200 polling stations.
Tuesday’s presidential elections in Armenian were conducted mostly in line with the country’s international commitmen’s, although further improvemen’s are necessary to address remaining challenges, the International Election Observation Mission said in the statement published Wednesday.
The observers said that the Armenian authorities made genuine efforts to address shortcomings noted in previous elections, but there is a need for further improvemen’s and political will to tackle concerns such as the lack of public confidence in the electoral process and the absence of a clear separation between state and party functions. The conduct of the count did not contribute to reduce suspicions among stakeholders.
"In an active and competitive election Armenia’s turned out in strength to choose between genuine political alternatives. The problems we observed particularly during the counting must be addressed to increase overall confidence in the electoral process," said Ann Marie Lizin, OSCE PA Vice President and Special Coordinator of the OSCE short-term observers.
"While we noted improvemen’s in the framework for these elections, problems with its implementation, especially during the vote count, in some cases undermined the trust of the people," said John Prescott, the head of the PACE delegation. "In the end, of final choice lies in the hands of the Armenian people. Therefore, its trust in the electoral process is crucial to genuine democracy,"
"Compared to the previous presidential elections, significant progress was noted with regard to the preparation and conduct of the electoral process. However, the whole electoral environment and reported interferences still have to be carefully assessed," said Marie Anne Isler Beguin, Head of the European Parliament delegation. "The EU will continue to support the reinforcement of democracy in Armenia via its Neighborhood Policy,"
Close to 400 observers including some 75 parliamentarians monitored the elections for the OSCE Office fore Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), and the European Parliament.
Members of the CIS observation mission and the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly echoed the sentimen’s of the OSCE during a press conference Wednesday where they presented preliminary results of their observations in almost all polling stations in the republic.
The Vice-President of Russia’s Federal Council Alexander Torshin, who is also a member of the observation mission, called on the other international organizations observing the elections to join them in making similar statemen’s.
The CIS observers stated that all legal and technical conditions were created in Armenia for the preparation, organization and voting. Torshin considered it an amazing achievement that the Electoral Code has been considerably improved after the parliamentary elections in May. This improvement, according to him, ensures the implementation of democratic processes and freedom of speech in the country.
About 200 CIS observers carried out both long-term and short-term missions in Armenia. The missions were also present at the opening of the polling stations, during the process of voting and ballot counting, Torshin said, noting also, that some technical shortcomings were registered, which could not have affected the outcome of the election. The Observation Mission, he added, presents its conclusions solely on its own observations.