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Armenia: Manukyan Calls For New Elections If Fraud Revealed

Yerevan, 2 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Armenian opposition leader and presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan says Armenia is now ruled by what he called an "illegitimate regime."

Manukyan called for a review of last month's presidential election, and said if fraud is revealed new elections should be called in a few months.

Manukyan was interviewed by RFE/RL at his home in Yerevan today. He said he was not sure if the government considers him a fugitive. He has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity, but says he will not leave the country willingly.

Manukyan said that opposition tallies of election results show that President Levon Ter-Petrosyan received about 35 percent of the votes cast and had there been no fraud, no candidate would have received the required 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round.

Manukyan said the issue facing the country is not whether one candidate received a few more votes than another, but that Armenia have what he called a "legitimate government." He said he does not anticipate international sanctions against Armenia, but that he does believe Armenia's reputation has been badly damaged by events. The opposition unrest that followed the elections, he said, shows the current regime is based solely on force.

Manukyan said he had prepared a challenge to the election to be presented to the Supreme Court.