YEREVAN, February 18. / ARKA /. Some 1,260,000 Armenians out of eligible 2,505,980 voters cast their ballots in the presidential election as of 5 pm, the Central Election Commission (CEC) reported
It said in the capital city Yerevan some 366, 620 people or 45 percent of voters had gone to the polling stations.
In Aragatsotn region 54.82% of the voters cast their ballots, in Ararat region -58.76%, in Armavir - 45.20%, in Gegharkunik - 57.74%, in Lori -52.94%, in Kotayk - 47.37%, in Shirak - 48.54%, in Syunik - 56.27%, in Vayots Dzor - 52.35% and in Tavush - 56.99 %.
The election is being watched by 6,251 members of local NGOs and 632 observers from 12 international organizations, including OSCE/ODIHR., CIS Mission, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, the International Center for Electoral Systems (ICES) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).
The highest post in the country is contested by seven candidates. The top contender is the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, who is chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). Other candidates are Heritage party chairman Raffi Hovannisian, leader of Freedom party, former prime minister Hrant Bagratyan, former foreign minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arman Melikyan, National Self-Determination Union party head Paruyr Hayrikyan, Radio Hay director Andrias Ghukasyan and literature expert Vardan Sedrakyan. The eighth candidate, National Unity Party leader Aram Harutyunyan, left the race on February 8.
There is no minimum voter turnout threshold in order for the elections to be valid and if a candidate wins more than 50% of the first round vote he will be elected president. A total of 2, 505, 980 people are entitled to vote. Under Armenia's election code, the day of the presidential elections is a non-working day. According to the Armenian law, the preliminary results will be announced February 19 no later than at 8 pm. and the final results will be announced seven days after the election. -0-