Local Elections in Karabakh Set for Septmeber

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–In a decision made over the weekend–the government of Nagorno-Karabakh reaffirmed its intentions to hold elections to local self-government bodies–setting the voting date for September 27. Voters in the overwhelmingly Armenian-populated region will be electing heads of community–town and village administrations as well as members of their respective legislative bodies.

The decision specifically instructs local authorities to cooperate with the Nagorno-Karabakh Central Election Commission in ensuring freedom and fairness of the vote. Previous presidential and parliamentary elections in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were strongly criticized by the international community which believes that they were not legitimate because the disputed region’s ethnic Azerbaijani minority that has fled the fighting was unable to participate.

The move came as consultations continued among Karabakh’s ruling circles over the composition of the new government. The recently appointed Prime Minister Zhirayr Poghosian was last week given one month to form the new cabinet. Observers in Stepanakert say at least half of the current ministers are likely to be replaced.

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