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Armenia: TV Stages First Presidential Election Debate

Yerevan, 4 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Two Armenian presidential candidates have held a televised debate, the first since the country gained independence more than a decade ago. Opposition challenger Stepan Demirchian and incumbent President Robert Kocharian traded accusations of overstepping ethical bounds in their campaigns.

The debate followed simultaneous demonstrations in Yerevan by supporters of each candidate, in which hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of the capital.

Kocharian fell just short (49.48 percent) of the simple majority he needed to win last month's election. Demirchian received about a third of the vote. The runoff is to take place tomorrow.