Nagorno Karabakh Armenians Elect Parliament No Major Incidents Reported

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic held its third free parliamentary election over the weekend. The 77,000 voters–among them 30,400 in Stepanakert–went to polls to elect the legislature for the next five years.

There are 113 candidates to 33 parliament mandates–including 55 candidates in eleven districts of the Karabakh capital. The deputies are being elected in single-mandate majoritarian districts–but a number of political parties have voiced support to particular candidates.

Allies of Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukasian looked set to maintain their control of the Republic’s parliament as preliminary returns put them ahead of their challengers in Sunday’s legislative elections. With the vote count still going on late in the evening–no official results were released by the Central Election Commission in Stepanakert.

According to unofficial reports–candidates affiliated with the pro-government Democratic Artsakh movement prevailed in at least 12 of 33 single-mandate constituencies. Together–with non-partisan deputies loyal to the current Karabakh leadership–they were widely expected to hold the majority of seats in the new National Assembly.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation was set to come second with at least nine seats.

The pan-Armenian party clearly fell short of its objective to win the parliament majority that would have allowed it to veto major government initiatives. Another party with Diaspora connections–Armenakan–claimed to have secured two seats in the local assembly. No major incidents were reported during Sunday’s voting. And according to the CEC–the voter turnout was at more than 85 percent. Under Karabakh election law–official results of the vote must be made public no later than Tuesday morning.

Addressing the local population on Saturday–Ghoukasian said the new parliament must serve as the "main mechanism for the oversight of the executive."

"As a rule–any uncontrolled government transforms into one or another form of dictatorship," he said. Ghoukasian’s most formidable rival–General Samvel Babayan–is being prosecuted for his alleged role in the March 22 armed attack on the Karabakh leader and was unable to stand in the polls.

Ghoukasian met with First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Transnistrian Republic Vladimir Atamanik and Deputy Head of the Expert Group on Negotiations with Moldova Vladimir Grigoryev who had come to Stepanakert to monitor the parliamentary elections held.

On behalf of the President of the Transnistrian Republic–Igor Smirnov–greeted Ghoukassian–wishing him early recovery and every success to the people of Artsakh.

The guests shared their impressions with the Nagorno Karabakh Republic regarding the elections. They pointed to the well-managed process and big voter turn-out.

Ghoukassian emphasized that the people of Karabakh relied on the electoral process as yet another step forward along the way of democracy.

The sides also discussed the possibility of establishing relations between the two republics.

Nagorno Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian was also present at the meeting. Goukasian–also said he was ready to hold talks with Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve its political future.

"The elections are going calmly," said the head of the local election commission–Sergey Davtyan.

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