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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
19 February 2008 - ERAREN
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!àÒ0="justify">Nine candidates are participating to the Armenian’s presidential elections which will be held today. If the second ballot holding realized, only three of the candidates will have chance: the Prime Minister Serj Sarkisian, the former President Levon Ter Petrosyan, the former chairman of the National Assembly and the president of the Rule of Law Party Artur Bagdasarian. Although, the candidate of the Tashnak Party, Hovanissian is claiming that he will have the chance for the second ballot; this claim is not very persuasive.

Most of the newspapers and the television channels and the some pools claiming that the Prime Minister Serj Sarkisian will win the elections and even some of them assert that Sarkisian will get 60% of the votes in the first round. On the other hand they claim that Ter Petrosyan and Bagdasarian will have between 10 to 15%of the votes. But there is a liability problem here because most of the media are belonging to the big capital owners who are in good relations with the state itself. The report of OSCE was already pointed out that the big newspapers are praising Sarkisian while they always made negative comments about Ter Petrosyan. The forced resignation of Ter Petrosyan due to the Karabagh issue ten years ago and accusation made against him for the economic difficulties between 1990 and 1993 could be the reason for the low vote potential of Ter Petrosyan. However, although the bad whether conditions there were high level of participation to the meeting organized by Ter Petrosyan and there were about 50.000 people at his meeting of Erivan which took place last Saturday. Therefore the situation of Ter Petrosyan is not as bad as the media claimed. We should also note that the supporters of Ter Petrosyan are usually facing the pressures of the security forces and they were frequently arrested by the police.

Apart from the big Armenian newspapers, Russia is also supporting Sarkisian. The official visit of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation to Sarkisian just before the election is enough evidence. After this visit, Ter Petrosyan also went to Moscow in order to make some contacts, however he was not able to meet high ranking officials. This event also is the confirmation of the Russia’s support for Sarkisian.

On the other hand, it was understood that Sarkisian is using official sources for his campaign. This issue was also pointed out in the report of OSCE.

Finally, we should say that all the elections in Armenia witnessed irregularities and the reports of the election observer’s confess this. For today election, under the pressure of some international organizations like Council of European, Europe Union and OSCE; and the USA; President Kocharian, Prime Minister Sarkisian and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Oskanian repeated many times that the elections will be held according to the rules.

Tomorrow, we will deal with the results of the elections.

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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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