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Presidential Runner-Up Leads Rally In Armenian Capital


Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, seen here at a rally in late February, has said he will decide on March 4 whether or not to file a complaint with the Armenian Constitutional Court.
YEREVAN -- Supporters of defeated Armenian presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian are rallying in Yerevan to allege that last month's election was illegitimate and to declare him the true winner of that poll.

Several thousand people are at the authorized rally in central Liberty Square in the heart of Armenia's capital.

Hovannisian, a former foreign minister and leader of the Zharangutiun (Heritage) party, called for President Serzh Sarkisian to step down and accused him of winning last month’s vote by fraud.

LIVE STREAM VIDEO of the March 2 protest in Yerevan on RFE/RL's Armenian Service homepage

Hovannisan also said that he would make a final decision on March 4 as to whether to make a formal complaint to Armenia’s constitutional court over the ballot count.

According to official results, Sarkisian won with over 58 percent of the vote, while Hovannisian ranked second with nearly 37 percent.

Hovannisian's camp has alleged a range of electoral violations.

Washington has said it is concerned over "serious violations" in the electoral process in Armenia, where 10 people were killed in clashes in the 2008 vote that brought Sarkisian to power.

Hovannisian has dubbed his protest movement the “Hello Revolution” and held rallies in Yerevan and regional towns since the vote to flex his political muscle.

At the March 2 protest in the capital, he repeated his calls for his supporters to protest only through legal and peaceful methods.

RFE/RL's Harry Tamrazian said from the scene that Hovannisian had vowed there would be no violent confrontations with security forces, stressing that his supporters would act within the framework of the constitution.

The latest rally comes on the anniversary of the date in 1992 when Armenia joined the United Nations and Hovannisian became the first foreign minister to represent independent Armenia at the world body.