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Armenian Pro-President Parties Win Parliament Vote

The vote count signaled a victory for Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian's (in file photo) Republican Party of Armenia (OSCE) May 20, 2007 -- Armenian parties loyal to President Robert Kocharian have won a large majority in the May 12 parliamentary elections, according to the first official results.

The figures show the Republican Party, led by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who is the favored successor to Kocharian, won 65 seats in the 131-seat parliament.

The pro-presidential Prosperous Armenia party placed second with 25 seats.

Opposition parties won 16 seats. The vote is regarded as a test of democracy in the Caucasian country and a dress rehearsal for a presidential contest in early 2008.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called the voting a "clear improvement" that showed "progress" compared with earlier ballots, saying it largely met international standards for democratic elections.

(Reuters, AFP)