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Armenia: OSCE Cites Violations In Presidential Poll

Yerevan, 6 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- International observers say Armenia's presidential election was plagued by serious irregularities. The head of a monitoring mission sent by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Peter Eicher, said today that the OSCE "had hoped for better." Monitors said the first round on 19 February was flawed by ballot-box stuffing and intimidation of voters. The OSCE statement said the same irregularities took place during the runoff election yesterday, which was won by incumbent Robert Kocharian (pictured).

The OSCE said that some 200 monitors confirmed many cases of ballot-box stuffing and said that the period between the first round and the runoff did not meet international standards for an open campaign.

These complaints echoed those made by the opposition, which alleged "massive legal violations," as well as intimidation and violence.

The Central Election Commission said that Kocharian had 67.5 percent of the vote and challenger Stepan Demirchian had 32.5 percent.