Armenia Prepares for March 5th Presidential Run offs

YEREVAN (Armenpress-Noyan Tapan-RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian visited some of his numerous campaign offices in Yerevan on Friday to meet with campaign managers the second day running.

Kocharian’s campaign spokesman Vahagn Mkrtchian revealed that the working meetings with campaign staff focused on ways to prevent vote irregularities in the second round. "Our task is to hold elections that are as free and fair as possible," he said. "In that regard–we will undertake appropriate measures to enhance the oversight of polling stations through our proxies."

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–commenting on the voting process during the first round of elections said–"Of course–it was our desire to hold normal elections and see things happening peacefully and smoothly–to boost our international standing," Oskanian said. "Unfortunately–this has not been the case."

Meanwhile–three major pro-presidential parties supporting the incumbent Kocharian–the Republican Party–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–and Orinats Yerkir–having obtained official permission from the Yerevan city authorities–announced on Friday plans to hold rallies in support of Kocharian in the next three days. Observers gear up for second round

The head of the OSCE observation mission Peter Eicher met with the chairman of the RA Constitutional Court Gagik Haroutiunian in order to review procedures of investigating as well as review and hearing procedures of disputes connected to the February 19 elections result.

Twelve international and thirty one local organizations will monitor the second round of presidential elections. The approximate total number of monitors is 6,500–6,000 of which are the representatives of local organizations.

Applications to monitor the second round were submitted by the CIS monitoring mission–the OSCE office of democratic establishmen’s and human rights–representatives of Central Electoral Commissions of Ukraine and Belarus–IFES–CIS inter-parliamentary assembly–Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe–Iran–Canadian Embassy–the US ambassador to Armenia–parliamentary Council of Russian-Belarus union–and Nagorno Karabagh.

The monitoring mission from Iran–having observed the first round of elections–welcomed the high voter turnout–and stressed the necessity of holding fair elections. The mission expressed concern over a series of reported irregularities that have transformed into a standoff between the authorities and the opposition–and welcomed "the authorities attention to releasing the detained proxies of the opposition." The mission stressed its genuine interest in conducting the second round of elections–scheduled for March 5–in an environment of "consent and democracy." Endorsemen’s

The leader of the National Democratic Union (NDU)–and first round candidate Vazgen Manukian–who did very poorly in the February 19 ballot–said his party will endorse Stepan Demirchian–with NDU activists engaged in campaigning for Demirchian; he added–however–that he was not 100 percent sure that the would-be government of Demirchian can take the country along the path of democratization.

The Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia approved a decision Friday not to support any of the candidates in the second round of elections.

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