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Armenia/Azerbaijan: Kocharian Reported Winner In Nagorno-Karabakh

Moscow, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The electoral commission in Azerbaijan's breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh says that Robert Kocharian won yesterday's election for president, according to Itar-Tass.

The 42-year-old Kocharian has served as president of the self-proclaimed republic since 1994, when he was elected by the enclave's parliament.

Tass reports that the electoral commission said Kocharian received some 85 percent of the vote. He was running against two challengers, parliamentary deputy Boris Arunchanian and Communist Party leader Hrant Melkunian.

The commission reported that some 77 percent of the 90,000 registered voters in the ethnically Armenian enclave took part in the poll, the first by universal suffrage in Nagorno-Karabath.

Azerbaijan has condemned the vote as illegal. Some 5,000 people demonstrated against the election yesterday in Azerbaijan's capital Baku. The vote has also been criticized by Russia, the United States and Turkey.

Azerbaijani troops were ousted from Nagorno-Karabakh after several years of fighting. A truce was signed in 1994, but a final settlement has been elusive.