Armenia polls ‘competitive and well-run’: OSCE observers

Parliamentary elections in Armenia won by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s party were “competitive and well run,” observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday.

The OSCE said “fundamental freedoms key to democratic elections were generally respected” in Sunday’s polls and gave an “overwhelmingly positive assessment of the voting process”.

The “vote counting process went well and was highly transparent,” it added.

Official results Monday showed that Pashinyan’s party won 53.9 percent of the vote in snap elections he called to defuse a political crisis after a war which Armenia lost to Azerbaijan last year.

An alliance led by Pashinyan’s nemesis, ex-president Robert Kocharyan, came second with 21 percent, according to the results based on ballots from all precincts counted.

His electoral bloc cried foul, saying it would not recognise election results until “violations” were studied.

Earlier, the general prosecutor’s office said it had received 319 reports of violations. It said it had opened six criminal probes, all of which concerned bribes during campaigning.

The vote was seen as a two-horse race, with both Pashinyan, 46, and Kocharyan, 66, drawing massive crowds in the run-up to the polls.

OSCE observers said the elections “were characterised by intense polarisation and marred by increasingly inflammatory language from key contestants.”

During a venomous campaign, candidates exchanged insults and threats. Pashinyan brandished a hammer at rallies, while Kocharyan said he would be ready to fight the prime minister in a duel.