Nagorno-Karabakh holds municipal elections

Associated Press Worldstream
August 8, 2004 Sunday

Nagorno-Karabakh holds municipal elections

YEREVAN, Armenia

The Nagorno-Karabakh enclave held local elections on Sunday, ignoring
the Council of Europe’s advice to call off the municipal balloting.

“Free and fair elections are the only mechanism to form a legitimate
government in Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Sergei Davidian, chairman of
the enclave’s Central Election Commission.

The 45-nation Council of Europe, however, had voiced regret over the
elections in the enclave, which has broken off from Azerbaijan, with
Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer saying “one-sided actions are

More than 85,000 residents are registered to vote in Sunday’s
balloting to choose community leaders, members of the Council of
Elders and also the mayor of the regional capital, Stepanakert.
Preliminary results are expected Monday.

Davidian said he was confident the election would proceed fairly,
adding that international experts were closely following the results.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Union of Journalists, citing the results of an
earlier survey, predicted that 72 percent of registered voters would
cast ballots.

Armenian-backed forces won control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely
ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, in a 1988-94 war that killed
some 30,000 people and drove a million from their homes.

Despite a cease-fire, Armenian-backed forces and Azerbaijani troops
continue to face off across a demilitarized zone, and shooting
occasionally erupts. On Sunday, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Foreign Ministry
announced that a 21-year-old Azerbaijan soldier, identified as Anat
Samyedov, was detained on Friday during an alleged attempt to cross
the border.

Nagorno-Karabakh said it had informed the International Committee of
the Red Cross and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in
Europe about the detention, adding that it was willing to return the
soldier to Azerbaijan if it received such a request.