STEPANAKERT (Armenpress)– Voters in Nagorno-Karabakh headed to the polls Thursday to elect their next president. All 276 polling stations opened at 8 am. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh could also vote in Yerevan where there is one polling station at its representation in Armenia.
At 8 p.m. local time presidential elections in Nagorno Karabakh ended. According to the initial information publicized by the head of the Central Electoral Commission Sergey Nasibian, 76.25 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections. This put the total number voters at 77,235 from 92,117 registered voters.
Initially 91,166 voters had been registered in the list about 800 citizens were included in the voting lists by documen’s provided by passport departmen’s, other 39 people restored their voting right through court.
In Stepanakert 64.6 percent of the voters participated in the elections, in Askeran region 77.58 percent, in Shahumian region 96.35 percent, in Shoushi 83.64, in Kashatagh 85.88. In Yerevan, in the building of Karabakh representation in Armenia, 242 citizens of Karabakh came to vote.
According to the Karabakh Electoral code, the elections are considered valid in case 25 percent of eligible voters participate in the voting. The initial results will be summed up in 24 hours after the elections and final results 72 hours after the elections.
The five candidates participating in the ballot are Bako Sahakian, Masis Maylian, parliament deputy Armen Abgarian; Nagorno-Karabakh Communist Party leader Hrant Melkumian; and Vanya Avanesian, a professor at Artsakh State University
Preliminary results are expected on Friday.
The outgoing president of Nagorno-Karabakh Arkady Ghoukasian said Thursday, after casting his ballot in the presidential elections, that the republic will be in the hands of a “very reliable” man who will fulfill his duties of president with honor.
Ghoukasian said Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in the conflict resolution process was imminent, because only that way the conflict could be settled.
“If Nagorno-Karabakh is not in the talks then these talks are meaningless and they could hardly produce any result,” he said.
The head of the Central Election Commission Sergey Nasibyan hailed the election campaign as democratic and transparent saying local and foreign observers were monitoring the polls. Figures about voter turnout are published every three hour.
Observers of the Karabakh presidential elections from the inter-parliamentary assembly of member countries of “For Democracy and Rights of Peoples” community highlighted the high level of organization and conduct of presidential elections.
The Secretary General of the inter-parliamentary assembly of member countries of “For Democracy and Rights of Peoples” community Grigory Marakutsa said, “The elections in Nagorno Karabakh are took place high level and the observers did not register serious violations.”
Marakutsa also said that “The organization and pace of elections correspond to the international standards and European democratic norms.”
Leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh downplayed a wave of statemen’s denouncing the election as illegal and saying that the international community will not recognize its legitimacy.
Thus Nagorno-Karabakh parliament chairman Ashot Ghulian advised to ignore these statemen’s, saying the people’s choice and their attitude to the election is more important.
Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian said Nagorno-Karabakh is moving in the right direction. He described Council of Europe secretary general, Terry Davis’ statement that the body will not recognize the election as “disrespect towards partners.”
“Why then when high ranking officials of Council of Europe come to Nagorno-Karabakh, they as to meet with its elected officials-president, parliament chairman, prime minister and others, and make statemen’s?” he asked.
Bako Sahakian, a former security chief said the election will give the international community another opportunity to perceive Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Thursday the presidential vote held in Nagorno-Karabakh as a sign of Armenia’s "aggression" against the Muslim country.
"The so-called ‘elections’ gravely violate relevant norms and principles of international law… This act and its results therefore have no legal effect," said OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in a statement.
"The OIC fully recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan," he said, adding that the world’s largest Islamic body "once again strongly condemns the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan."
Voters went to the polls Thursday in Nagorno-Karabakh to elect a new president for this isolated ethnic Armenian-controlled mountain enclave. Officials said they hoped the vote would shore up the region’s democratic credentials, boosting its efforts to become an internationally recognized country after 15 years of self-declared independence following the messy break-up of the Soviet Union.
The OIC on Thursday urged an "immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan."