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Armenia: OSCE Urges Armenian Authorities to Probe Disappearing Ballots

Prague, 17 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is calling on Armenian authorities to investigate the disappearance of tens of thousands of ballot papers during last month's presidential elections.

The recommendation is one of several contained in the final report of OSCE's Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The report also recommends changes in election procedures and mechanisms to ensure respect for Armenia's election laws.

Armenian authorities have conceded some 20,000 ballots went missing but would not affect the final results that recognized incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossian as the winner.

Initially, OSCE said about 43,000 ballots were unaccounted for. But now OSCE says the real number of missing ballots should be determined through a re-examination of vote counting documents.

A member of the Swiss delegation to the OSCE in Vienna, Jean-Daniel Ruch, told RFE/RL the Armenian delegation has accepted the report's recommendations.

He says OSCE member governments have accepted the legitimacy of the election results and are satisfied with what he terms the Armenian government's open approach.

The opposition, which faced a strong backlash from the authorities after the elections, has said it will appeal the election results to Armenia's Constitutional Court. The Armenian delegation to OSCE says the government will respect the Constitutional Court's decision.