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Armenia polls free of 'violations': election commission

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Armenian polls that saw President Serzh Sarkisian win re-election were free of any serious violations, the central elections commission said Monday as it released the poll's final results.

Serzh Sarkisian scored crushing victory in last week's presidential elections seen as a crucial test for the ex-Soviet state.

"In the course of the electoral campaign and the vote, there were no violations that could have affected the elections' result," said the head of the Central Elections Commission, Tigran Mukuchyan.

"Serzh Azatovich Sarkisian has been elected President of the Republic of Armenia," he announced.

According to the final results, Sarkisian received 58.64 percent of the votes against his top challenger Raffi Hovannisian's 36.74 percent.

Turnover was 60.18 percent.

Observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said the February 18 election was an improvement on past polls but lacked real competition after two leading candidates pulled out late last year.

The United States said it was concerned over "serious violations" in the country's electoral process.

The Armenian authorities had hoped for a peaceful conduct of the vote in a bid to improve the country's chances of European integration, after the vote that brought Sarkisian to power in 2008 ended in clashes that saw 10 people die.

But the most recent election was clouded both by a lack of strong opposition to the incumbent, and a mysterious assassination attempt against one candidate, Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan, last month.

Hovannisian's refusal to recognise the electoral outcome has further complicated the post-electoral political environment in the small Caucasus state.

After the publication of the preliminary results, Hovannisian, the former foreign minister, claimed that he was the true winner and denounced the vote as "not fair".

His camp alleged a range of sometimes bizarre electoral violations, including the use of "disappearing ink" to allow multiple voting.

mkh-im/as/jz

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130225/armenia-polls-free-violations-election-commission