18 February 2013

The economy has been the major issue in the build-up to the election
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Armenia election contender shot Armenia ruling party wins polls
Armenia country profile The Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has
won a second five-year term in office, according to an exit poll.

The Gallup poll, carried by Armenian television, predicted that the
president would win 58% of the vote.

His closest rival, Raffi Hovanessian, took 32%, the poll said.

Observers have criticised the election for failing to present voters
with any real choice, after several of Mr Sarkisian’s most well-known
opponents withdrew from the contest.

One of the candidates was shot last month in a suspected assassination

Paruyr Hayrikyan of the National Self-Determination Union was wounded
in the shoulder outside his home near Yerevan. He was readmitted to
hospital earlier this week after saying he did not feel well.

A fourth candidate, Andrias Ghukasyan, has meanwhile been on hunger
strike since the start of the campaign in an effort to persuade the
authorities to annul Mr Sarkisian’s candidacy and press international
observers to boycott the election.

And a fifth, Arman Melikyan, had said he would not vote on Monday
because he believed the poll would be rigged in favour of the

Andrias Ghukasyan has been on a hunger strike since 21 January in a
bid to derail the election Last month, the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe expressed great concern that “major political
parties, which were strongly expected to present presidential
candidates, chose not to do so because of their lack of trust in the
conduct of the election”.

Mr Sarkisian’s victory in the last election in 2008 sparked deadly
clashes between police and opposition supporters, who alleged
widespread fraud. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe (OSCE) said the vote had mostly met international standards.

The president’s supporters said Monday’s vote would be free of violence
and allegations of fraud, and would show the former Soviet republic was
now politically stable. Last May’s parliamentary elections, won by Mr
Sarkisian’s Republican Party, took place without any major incidents.

The economy has been the major issue in the build-up to the election.

Although the economy grew about 7% in 2012, unemployment stands at 16%
and more than 30% of the population live below the poverty line.

Trade has been affected by a blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan
since the 1990s war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

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