President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia easily won re-election to a second five-year term, according to preliminary returns released on Tuesday by the Central Election Commission. The preliminary results showed Mr. Sargsyan with about 59 percent of the vote, enough to win the presidency outright and avoid a runoff. The former foreign minister, Raffi Hovanessian, was a distant second with about 37 percent, the returns showed. Armenians went to the polls on Monday with Mr. Sargsyan heavily favored to win and maintain stability in a country that has become an increasingly important, if uneasy, United States ally in monitoring Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is poised for victory in elections next week after rivals withdrew from a campaign that’s been dominated by one candidate’s attempted assassination and another’s hunger strike. Sargsyan, 59, has 69 percent support before the Feb. 18 vote, compared with 11 percent for his nearest challenger, Raffi Hovhannisyan, a former foreign minister, according to a Gallup poll published Feb. 9. Paruyr Hayrikyan, a former dissident who was shot and wounded in a Jan. 31 incident, has 5 percent backing, while Andrias Ghukasyan, who hasn’t eaten in 26 days and calls the ballot “fake,” has 1 percent, the survey showed.
Armenia: Day 17 of Armenia’s presidential campaign brings concerns about hunger-striking candidate’s health | ArmeniaNow.com
With one of the candidates in the current presidential race in Armenia still recovering in hospital after surviving an assassination attempt, another one refuses to be hospitalized after doctors registered some deterioration of his health condition on Wednesday. Andrias Ghukasyan, a 42-year-old director of Radio Hay, has been camped outside the National Academy of Sciences building in central Yerevan since the start of the campaign on January 21, refusing to take food and demanding that incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan be disqualified from the race and international observers discontinue their mission and leave Armenia. Responding to an emergency call on Wednesday, ambulance service doctors examined Ghukasyan, registering a drop in his blood pressure. The candidate, however, refused to go to hospital and said he was determined to continue his hunger strike until February 18 – Election Day.
An unidentified assailant shot at politician and Armenian presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan and wounded him on Thursday just before midnight on a street in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. Hayrikyan was transported to hospital and his state is stable. The presidential elections are scheduled for February 18, although Armenian constitution allows to postpone elections for up to 40 days if any candidate is unable to participate in the race for reasons he is not responsible for. The deputy chairman of the parliament Eduard Sharmazanov also said the act was a “provocation against democratic, free and transparent elections”. A parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamyan admitted the election can be postponed.
Almost 10 days after the official launch of the presidential campaign, the political scene in Armenia remains relatively calm. Unlike elections in 2008 and 2003, there have not been any powerful rallies or other street protests and demonstrations from the opposition. President Serzh Sargsyan will face seven challengers in the Feb. 18 poll, including Hrant Bagratyan, a former prime minister and leader of the Liberty Party, and Raffi Hovhannisyan, head of the Heritage Party.