May 24, 2013
Armenian president wins re-election, exit poll shows
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan won a new five-year term today, an exit poll and initial results showed, in an election marred by allegations of fraud and the lack of a serious opposition challenge.
Police said they had received at least 70 reports of voting violations after a campaign in which one of the outside candidates was shot and wounded. The opposition Heritage Party said many ballots cast for opposition parties had been thrown out, but did not say whether it would challenge the result.
The president, 58, has vowed to sustain economic recovery in his landlocked South Caucasus country and said before the vote he would ensure stability after years of war and upheaval, although he has outlined no plans for big policy changes.
The continued peace of a region where pipelines take Caspian oil and natural gas to Europe is a concern for foreign investors and neighbours, especially as relations are fraught with fellow former Soviet republic Azerbaijan.
"I voted for the future of Armenia, for the security of Armenia, for the security of our citizens," Sarksyan said as he cast his vote at a polling station in the capital, Yerevan.
The exit poll by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization, reported by Armenian television, put Sarksyan on 58 percent of votes cast. His nearest rival, U.S.-born Raffi Hovannisian, trailed on 32 percent.
With 82 polling stations out of a total of 1,988 counted, Sarksyan was leading with 68 percent of the vote, according to official Central Electoral Committee data. Final results are expected late on Tuesday.
The result, if confirmed, will strengthen Sarksyan's hold on Armenia, which borders Iran, Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, following his Republican Party's victory in a parliamentary election last year.