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Armenia: Opposition Protests Against Election Results

Yerevan, 6 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of supporters of opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian (pictured) rallied in the Armenian capital Yerevan today to denounce President Robert Kocharian's victory in yesterday's second-round vote.

Demirchian and other opposition leaders demanded that the authorities invalidate the official vote results or face a campaign of street protests. They urged the crowd to gather again in the same place tomorrow.

Demirchian said the results showing Kocharian's victory were falsified, and accused the president of seeking to establish a "dictatorship" in Armenia.

Preliminary election results showed Kocharian winning about 67 percent of the vote, while Demirchian won 32 percent.

International observers today said the election process fell short of international standards. A joint monitoring mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe cited "serious irregularities in many polling stations." The first round also came under domestic and international criticism.