ARMENIA’S PRESIDENT REELECTED IN CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION
Feb 19 2013
(Vatican Radio)Initial results show Armenia’s President Serzh Sarksyan
has won a second five-year term with about 58 per cent of votes cast
in a controversial election.
Monday’s ballot was overshadowed by European Union concerns about
the status of democracy in the country.
The incumbent’s main rival Raffi Hovannisian received about 32 per
cent, but the lack of serious competition has led observers to question
the democratic credentials of the poll.
Observers recalled that the last presidential election, in 2008, was
marred by clashes in which 10 people were killed, though the were no
immediate reports of violence this time.
Sarksyan has made clear he hopes the election secures the approval
of international observers and ensure some stability after years of
war and upheaval.
However questions remain how the head-of-state will tackle tensions
with Azerbaijan about the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh, following a war
between the two neighbours over the ethnic Armenian-majority territory.
At least 30,000 people were killed and over 1 million people were
displaced in the fighting. The president has said he prefers peace
talks but is ready to fight over the enclave again, “if necessary.”
Sarksyan says he prefers peace talks but is ready to fight over the
enclave again, “if necessary.”
However the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, has
appealed for calm. “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unsustainable,
it’s quite clear,” he said.
“Both sides should do efforts towards a solution. Both sides are
invited by the European Parliament to avoid any statement which could
lead to more tensions and more conflicts, Schultz added.
Besides tensions over the enclave president Sarksyan also faces
economic troubles with nearly a third of the population living in
below the poverty line.
He seeks a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, but Brussels
has warned that requires an improvement of democratic standards in
the former Soviet republic.