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Armenia: No Major Irregularities In Today's Presidential Election

Yerevan, 16 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's Central Electoral Commission says no serious incidents marred today's voting for president. Central Electoral Commission official Tamara Sarkisian said that, as of 1700 local time, nearly half the country's eligible voters had voted. Sarkisian said the highest turnout, about 75 percent, is reported in Armenia's southeast Syunik province.

Twelve candidates are in the race, but only three -- current Prime Minister and acting President Robert Kocharian, Armenia's Soviet-era leader Karen Demirchian, and the opposition National Democratic Union chairman Vazgen Manukian -- are seen as the real contenders. Each has already voted in Yerevan, in the presence of numerous local and foreign reporters.

First preliminary results are expected tomorrow. The Central Election Commission has promised to promptly provide the media with information as it comes from the regions.

Today's election was called early last month after President Levon Ter-Petrossyan resigned when he failed to muster support for what was viewed as a conciliatory policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.