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Sarkisian ‘Deeply Interested’ In Clean Vote


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian talks to the people in one of the villages of Aragatsotn during ruling Republican's election campaign, 20Apr2011

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian talks to the people in one of the villages of Aragatsotn during ruling Republican's election campaign, 20Apr2011

President Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed on Friday his government’s pledges to do its best to ensure that Armenia’s parliamentary elections are widely recognized as democratic and legitimate.

“Never before have we had such favorable, normal conditions to hold free and fair elections that would lead to the formation of a government enjoying the trust of our people … and our [foreign] partners. That is very, very important,” he said on the campaign trail in a village in the country’s central Aragatsotn province.

“As president of the Republic of Armenia, I am deeply interested in the holding of good elections. That is my goal,” Sarkisian told local residents.

Sarkisian and other Armenian officials have made similar assurances in recent months. In particular, they have pointed to amendments to the Electoral Code that were enacted by them and largely praised by the Council of Europe the last year.

Armenian opposition groups dismiss these pledges, arguing that the authorities blocked more radical anti-fraud amendments that were drafted by opposition lawmakers. Opposition politicians also point to Sarkisian’s deep involvement in past Armenian elections marred by vote rigging allegations.

Western officials seem far more encouraged by the authorities’ election pledges. The European Union’s two top officials, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, said after talks with Sarkisian in Brussels last month that they believe his government is committed to holding clean polls.
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