International Media Neglecting Armenian Election?

With only six hours to go till the polling stations close in Armenia, the international media seem to be largely uninterested in the developments here, with very basic coverage of the elections only available from major international news agencies, as well as the BBC and Euronews.

The elections are largely described as a transfer of power from outgoing leader Robert Kocharyan to his ally and prime minister Serzh Sarksyan. All international media reports point to economic growth, as the main factor in favor of Serzh Sargsyan – described as the clear frontrunner, although some point to doubts about the validity of the polls indicating Prime Minister’s high rating.

The BBC describes the Armenian elections as “fiercely-contested”, resulting from the dramatic comeback of Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian as an opposition candidate.

Bloomberg is mostly concentrating on the possibility of street protests by the opposition over raising concerns that the vote may be rigged.  The information service points to the fact, that Armenia is under pressure from U.S. and the European Union to strengthen its democracy at a time when it is receiving hundred of millions of dollars in aid, indicating, that there have already been charges against the authorities by the main opposition challenger Levon Ter-Petrossian of government attempts to control the vote and ensure Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s victory.

Reuters also notes, the opposition claims, that the campaign has been unfair, and predicts street protests, as in the case of previous elections in Armenia which “have been followed by mass opposition protests alleging ballot fraud. However, the news service notes the polls, which “give Sarksyan a lead over the rest of the field, led by former former speaker of parliament Artur Baghdasaryan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, a former president who was forced to resign in 1998 but is now seeking a comeback, and quotes Sarksyan saying:”
If there is a second round I would prefer to fight against Levon Ter-Petrosyan”.

Euronews is highlighting the fact, that “failure of the opposition to unite around a single candidate has boosted Sarksyan’s chances”, and predicting, that upon election “Sarksyan will have to deal with the so-called “frozen” conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh”.

The “Nagorno-Karabakh” perspective is also covered by Agence France-Presse, which also indicates, that Serzh Sarkisian, seen as the fruntrunner, is likely to  follow in Kocharian’s footsteps if elected — pursuing close ties with Moscow and maintaining a hawkish stance in relations with neighbouring Azerbaijan and Turkey.

in Armenian

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Photos: Armenia Elects New President

Election Day 006

Photos: Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008

Armenia Election Monitor 2008 brings the first photos of the election day – “Finally the day has arrived”, writes Onnik Krikoryan with relief, “Whatever the outcome one thing is certain. In this round or a possible second, Armenia will elect a new president in a vote that international observers hope will represent a marked improvement over the last presidential election in 2003.”

in English

Armenia Votes Today!

2 million 328 thousand 320 voters are eligable to vote for the new president of the country, Athanatoi (Hrant)  writes in his blog,  reminding that 8000 police officers are on duty today to ensure security of the polls. The initial results of the Armenian presidential elections will be known by 6:00 AM on February 20th.

“Ah yes, today is the day where corruption, blind nationalism, and fraud all come together in the form of Armenia’s Presidential Election!” Rhyne of Armenia blog writes from US. “One thing’s for certain, this is not going to be a demonstration of democracy and whoever is elected will first and foremost get himself rich, then those near him, and whatever is left will be spread among the lower individuals in power”.

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