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Armenia: Parliament Voting Proceeding Peacefully

Yerevan, 25 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Turnout was steady as Armenians voted today to choose a national parliament, just two months after a controversial presidential election. The presidential vote in the republic sparked protests over alleged irregularities and was internationally criticized.

By 10:30 a.m. local time, already almost 112,000 people had cast their ballots, some 5 percent of the electorate, according to election officials. Artak Sagradian, head of the Central Election Commission, termed the voting "normal."

There were no reports of disturbances during the voting for 131 seats in the National Assembly.

Political experts expect the top vote-getters to be from the Republican Party, which includes many members of President Robert Kocharian's government, and the opposition bloc Justice.

Justice is headed by Stepan Demirchian, who lost to Kocharian in March balloting that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said failed to meet accepted standards of openness. More than 400 observers from the OSCE and nine other international organizations have been accredited to monitor today's voting.