Bako Sahakyan re-elected Nagorno Karabakh president
Published: Friday July 20, 2012
Washington - Bako Sahakyan won his second five-year term in office as more than 70 percent of about 100,000 eligible voters turned out in the July 19 election
The Central Election Commission reported that Sahakyan gained over 47,000 votes - or about two-thirds of the total turnout - in an election marked by a vigorous challenge from Sahakyan's former ally and retired army general Vitaly Balasanyan. Balasanyan won about 23,000 votes or 32.5 per cent.
The central theme of my program is to continue what we have begun in the name of Artsakh and will continue this work. Five years from now we will see Artsakh more economically developed, flourishing and beautiful, Sahakyan told assembled journalists after casting his ballot in Stepanakert.
Balasanyan said the election process was marred by Sahakyan using the advantages of incumbency to turn out voters in his favor.
"I am forced to accept the election results with certain reservations," Balasanyan was quoted as saying by the Regnum news agency. At the same time, he said that "the elections have demonstrated that at least one-third of our electorate disagrees with current policies and is demanding changes. The government must re-consider its policies and this will be done through [opposition's] consistent demands."
About 100 foreign observers from two dozen countries, including current and former members of the European and national parliaments, monitored the vote and judged its overall conduct as fair and transparent, reported the NKR Office in the United States.
A group of U.S.-based scholars and academics, including Dr. Richard Callahan (University of San Francisco), Karin Mac Donald (University of California Berkeley); Professor Keith David Watenpaugh and Professor Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh (both with the University of California, Davis) who also monitored the vote concluded that the "election generally adhered to international standards."
While the Nagorno Karabakh Republic remains internationally unrecognized, envoys from France, Russia and the United States who regularly meet with NKR leaders effectively endorsed the holding of elections.
The envoys working under the umbrella of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement that they "acknowledge the need for the de facto authorities in NK to try to organize democratically the public life of their population with such [an electoral] procedure."
Co-chairs of the Caucus on Armenian issues in the U.S. Congress, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) issued a statement calling the election "another important day in the history of independence and democratic freedom for the people of Artsakh." A number of other Armenian Caucus members issued separate welcoming statements.