Turnout High in Karabagh Parliamentary Election

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–In the fourth parliamentary election since its independence in 1991–voter turnout in Mountainous Karabagh Republic’s (MKR) June 19 election was high. The country’s Central Electoral Commission confirmed 73.6 percent visited polling stations.

Observers from several countries–including Armenia–Russia–Kyrgyzstan–Ukraine–France–the Czech Republic and the US–expressed their satisfaction with the elections–adding that they did not witness serious voting violations.

MKR President Arkady Ghukasian promised an honest vote and warned against any actions which could harm the country’s image.

A day before the elections Ghukasian stated–"All attempts at violations–whoever the author–will be denounced and initiators punished with the full severity of the law."

The ballot was held at 274 polling stations throughout Karabagh–as well as a polling station in Yerevan to uphold the election rights of Karabagh citizens staying in Armenia.

"The elections are of paramount international importance for Nagorno-Karabagh," Ghukasian said on Saturday. "We must show the world our attitude towards the elections–which mirrors the irreversibility of democratic transformations and can promote the international recognition of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh."

Two thirds of parliament’s 33 seats were elected directly and the remaining 11–under a proportional system.

Results of the poll–which is being monitored by around 100 non-governmental observers–are expected late on Monday or early Tuesday.

For the elections to be declared valid–at least 25 percent of the 89,000 people eligible to vote must turn out.

The Democratic Artsakh party–led by Ashot Ghulian–claimed the victory under the proportional electoral system receiving 22,393 ballots–the Azat Hayrenik (Free Homeland) came second with 15,381 ballots–and a bloc of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Movement-88 was third with 14,534 votes.

Under the majoritarian electoral system–seven candidates each from the Democratic Artsakh party and Azat Hayrenik won at the polls.

Azerbaijan–meanwhile–declared the elections illegal.

Qualifying the elections as an important step in strengthening democratic institutions–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said–"Armenia greets the recurrent parliamentary elections held in Nagorno Karabagh."

According to him–the citizens of Karabagh expressed their political will and chose the authorities to be responsible for the country and its people.

"The important thing for us is that those chosen by the people will always have opportunity to present their wish and will have more serious contribution to the regulation of the Karabagh conflict–as well as internal and social issues of the country," said Oskanian.

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