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Thursday, 19 March, 1998, 12:43 GMT
Armenian elections go to run-off
Former Communist party leader, Karen Demirchian, got over 30% of the votes
Former Communist leader Karen Demirchian got just over 30%
Prime Minister Robert Kocharian and his main rival Karen Demirchian, the Soviet-era Communist leader, will compete for the Armenian presidency in a run-off vote on March 30, following the inconclusive outcome of Monday's vote.

Robert Kocharian won almost 39% of the votes
Robert Kocharian won almost 39% of the votes
According to provisional final results from the Central Election Commission, Mr Kocharian won 38.82% of the votes cast and Mr Demirchian 30.62%. The other 10 candidates were much further behind.

The Election Commission said the turnout in Monday's poll was almost 64% of the 2.2 million eligible voters in Armenia.

Final official results are expected to be published next Monday.

OSCE: 'deeply flawed' first round

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, which monitored the election, described the first round as "deeply flawed." The organisation said the irregularities did not sway the outcome of the election, but that improvements would be needed to ensure the second round was fair.

Also, the United States has urged Armenia to take steps to avoid vote fraud in the second round.

The OSCE deployed 200 observers to cover more than 800 polling stations, about half the total in Armenia. The organisation said significant violations were observed at 15% of the polling stations visited. Key areas of concern are ballot box stuffing, military voting, the use of state resources, the presence of police and unauthorised personnel in polling stations and media bias.

The OSCE has alco criticised Armenia's last presidential polls in 1996, when the victory of Levon Ter-Petrosyan lead to widespread allegations of fraud and mass protests.

Mr Ter-Petrosyan was forced from office last month in a row about the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

See also:

04 Feb 98 | S/W Asia
Armenian president resigns
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