Thousands in Armenia protest Sarksyan's re-election

Some protesters said they would gather again in the square on Thursday.

Thousands in Armenia protest Sarksyan's re-election

World Bulletin / News Desk

About 5,000 flag-waving protesters rallied on Wednesday against Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan's re-election, saying his victory was tainted by fraud.

Supporters of Sarksyan's second-placed rival Raffi Hovannisian filled Freedom Square in the centre of the capital Yerevan to condemn what they said were uncounted ballots and other violations.

"Are you ready to stay here long?" Hovannisian asked the crowd. "Are you ready to stay here until victory? I'm ready."

"The constitution should win over fraud," he said, raising a first above his head after kneeling to kiss the national flag.

Many of Hovannisian's supporters vowed to continue their protests until Sarksyan quits, but the crowd dispersed quietly after three hours and there was no violence.

Some protesters said they would gather again in the square on Thursday.

Hovannisian did not make clear whether he would formally challenge the result of Monday's election, which showed Sarksyan won 58.6 percent of votes, far ahead of Hovannisian, a U.S.-born former foreign minister, on nearly 37 percent.

International observers found an improvement in the conduct of the election compared to the last presidential vote in 2008 but said the vote lacked real competition.

Some of Sarksyan's most popular political rivals boycotted, saying the vote would be skewed in his favour. Police said they had received reports of voting irregularities which they were looking into.

Hayrabet Hovannisian, a musician who joined the protest on Wednesday, said he voted for a different opposition candidate but wanted to show his anger over the allegations of fraud.

"Today I came here to be together with the people, to return to the people their stolen votes," he said.

Last Mod: 21 Şubat 2013, 10:56
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