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Armenia: Thousands Demonstrate Against Election Results

Yerevan, 26 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Several thousand demonstrators marched on the official residence of Armenian President Robert Kocharian (pictured) today protesting the results of last week's presidential election. Police and Interior Ministry troops prevented the demonstrators -- mostly supporters of opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian -- from reaching Kocharian's residence. The protesters chanted antigovernment slogans and demanded Kocharian admit there was cheating in the 19 February presidential election.

Kocharian did say today that there were irregularities during voting, but he said as much as some irregularities may have helped him others equally helped his opponents.

Official results showed that Kocharian fell short of outright victory by half a percentage point. Demirchian's supporters say Demirchian won the election outright but vote rigging robbed him of victory.

Some opposition groups have called for delaying the runoff election, scheduled for 5 March, to give time for a recount. Kocharian said with or without the opposition's participation the runoff election between him and Demirchian will be held according to schedule.