YEREVAN, February 18. / ARKA /. Some 1,518,407 Armenian voters went to the polls today to elect a president, the Central Election Commission’s chairman Tigran Mukuchyan told reporters, adding the voter turnout appeared to be 60 percent. He said in Yerevan the voter turnout was 54 percent which means 445,338 eligible voters cast their ballots.
He said in Aragatsotn region the voter turnout was 63.60% (72,696 eligible voters) in Ararat -73.92% (157, 506), in Armavir - 56.92% (127, 845), in Gegharkunik - 69.06% (128,796), in Lori -60.15% (143, 059), in Kotayk - 59.15% (137,561), in Shirak - 57.92% (132,793), in Syunik - 65.50% (71,899), in Vayots Dzor - 62.65% (29, 597) and in Tavush - 65.73% (71,317).
The incumbent president Serge Sargsyan was re-elected for a second term in the first round of the election, according to an exit poll Monday. The poll of 19,130 voters conducted by Gallup International showed Sargsyan winning 58 percent of the ballot. The closest of his six rivals, is Raffi Hovanessian, Armenia’s first post-Soviet t foreign minister, who polled 32 percent.
Former prime minister Hrant Bagratian was on course for three percent as was the Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan who was wounded in an assassination attempt in the run-up to the polls, the exit poll said. The other candidates won each one percent. Full preliminary results are expected Tuesday.
The election was 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 was contested by seven candidates. The top contender was Serzh Sargsyan, who is chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). Other candidates were 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. A total of 2, 505, 980 people were entitled to vote. The final results will be announced seven days after the election. -0-