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Azerbaijan/Armenia: Voting Brisk In Karabakh Election

Stepanakert, Azerbaijan; 1 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Voting is reported brisk today in Nagorno-Karabakh where ballots are being cast for a new president of the disputed Azerbaijani enclave.

The Central Election Commission reports about one third of the 90,000 ethnic-Armenian eligible voters had cast ballots by midday.

There are reports that an Armenian soldier was shoot dead early this morning near Agdam, a town that runs along the border between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.

The voters are selecting a replacement for Robert Kocharyan, who was named Armenia's prime minister earlier this year.

All three candidates -- frontrunner Arkady Gukasyan, Boris Arushanyan and Artur Tovmazyan -- have vowed to press on with Nagorno-Karabakh's bid for international recognition as an independent state.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in 1991, three years after the territory moved to split from Azerbaijan. Some 20,000 people were killed in the conflict before a 1994 ceasefire.