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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.