Three Presidential Candidates Begin Campaigns in Karabakh

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–The Central Election Commission of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic registered on Tuesday three candidates for the presidential elections to be held on September 1.

The three candidates are the current Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Minister Arkady Ghoukassian–parliament speaker Artur Tovmasyan–and parliament deputy Boris Arushanyan. Acting president Leonard Petrossian is not running as a candidate.

The post of president became vacant in March 1997–when incumbent Robert Kocharyan was appointed Prime Minister of Armenia. Kocharyan received a majority vote of more than 86 percent in the November 1996 presidential elections. The elections were not recognized as valid either by Azerbaijan or by the international community. His closest rival–Boris Arushanyan–polled 6.9 percent.

To support the candidacy of Ghoukassian at the forthcoming presidential polls an election headquarters led by Karabakh Deputy Prime Minister Gerard Boghossian was formed.

A public committee in support of Ghoukassian was also established. It is headed by Karen Ohanjanian–leader of the "Helsinki Initiative-92" Karabakh Office.

As reported by Karen Ohanjanian–Ghoukassian is receiving great public support because of the great role he played and is playing in the negotiating process over the Karabakh settlement–as well as his willingness to assume responsibility for Karabakh’s future. Ohanjanian said that the public committee is planning to closely cooperate with Ghoukassian’s election headquarters.

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