Karabakh Holds Local Elections

Karabakh voters during the May 2010 parliamentary elections

BY LUSINE MUSAYELIAN

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)—Voters in Nagorno-Karabakh went to the polls on Sunday to elect local self-government bodies of the capital Stepanakert and more than 200 other mostly rural communities.

According to the local Central Election Commission, 59 percent of Karabakh’s more than 93,000 eligible voters cast their ballots for individual candidates vying for the top executive positions and local council seats. The CEC said it has received no formal complaints from any of those candidates.

Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, hailed the elections as democratic after casting a ballot at a polling station in Stepanakert. “It can be said that elections have become an integral part of life in our country,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It’s already a culture.”

“It’s very good that once again elections were held in a civilized environment and within the framework of the law and moral norms,” said Sahakian.

As always, the main electoral race unfolded in Stepanakert. Official vote results there showed government-backed candidate Suren Grigorian winning 62.5 percent of the vote and becoming the town’s new mayor.

Grigorian’s main challenger, former Stepanakert Mayor Eduard Aghabekian, came in a distant second with over 24 percent of the vote. The third mayoral candidate, Marat Hasratian, got about 14 percent.

Hasratian, who is a member of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s parliament, conceded defeat on Monday. “In my view, the elections were held properly,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Aghabekian, for his part, could not be reached for comment. Stepanakert’s outgoing mayor, Vazgen Mikaelian, did not run for reelection.

Predictably, Azerbaijan condemned the elections as illegitimate. “The so-called ‘elections’ are organized with the aim of concealing Armenia’s policy of occupation and bolstering the results of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a September 15 statement.

Vasili Atajanian, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s acting foreign minister, scoffed at the criticism, branding Azerbaijan as a hereditary “sultanate” where voters decide nothing. “We are showing the world that we have created a truly democratic state,” he claimed.

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2 Comments

  1. Elena said:

    For the fifth time in the contemporary history of our Artsakh, Congradulations.
    We don’t need that world wide recognition, we have an independent country running by itself, in fact more democratic than azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenian and many other countries.

  2. Norin Radd said:

    Free election and basic human rights, something Armenians of Arstakh (FORMERLY known as Nagorno-Karabagh) never had before under Azeri rule. Though this is not surprising, Azeri still do not have these rights themselves, so how could they have offered these rights to Armenians?

    I guess instead of offering elections for Armenians, Azeris thought it prudent to shell and bombard Armenian homes instead, but as they found out in 1994 when Armenians were attacked then SUCCESSFULLY defeated their Azeri oppresors and lifted the yolk of tyranny from upon their head whilst declaring their ancestral ARMENIAN land of Arstakh (FORMERLY Nagorno Karabagh) a liberated self governing DEMOCRATIC state.

    Armenians in the Diaspora are watching intently, bravo to our brothers and sisters in Arstakh and Armenia, the Armenian nation will endure and triumph.

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