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Armenia: U.S. Concerned About Foul Play In Election Campaign

Yerevan, 5 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. ambassador to Armenia today expressed concern about reports of irregularities in Armenia's presidential election campaign. John Ordway said the Armenian authorities should investigate opposition allegations that supporters of President Robert Kocharian are illegally using their government resources to ensure the incumbent's re-election.

Ordway also condemned yesterday's attack on the campaign manager of a major opposition candidate. The opposition activist, Hayk Babukhanian, was beaten and stabbed in the back by a group of men during a campaign rally in the southern Armenian town of Artashat.

Babukhanian's party, the Union for Constitutional Rights, blamed the violence on Kocharian. Kocharian ordered an official inquiry into the incident.

The U.S. envoy today reiterated that a proper handling of the vote is more important for Washington than its outcome. He said Armenia must ensure a clean vote if it is to "take its rightful place among the democracies of the world."