Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) yesterday issued what it termed the final results of the September 22 presidential election. It credited incumbent president Levon Ter-Petrosian with 51.75 percent of the vote, the opposition National Accord bloc’s joint candidate Vazgen Manukian with 41.3 percent, Communist candidate Sergei Badalian with 6.3 percent, and Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union’s candidate Ashot Manucharian with 0.6 percent. There was no immediate word on voter turnout; interim reports had indicated a low turnout in the range of 55 percent. According to Western observers in Yerevan, the official returns suggest that even if the electoral fraud was less systematic than claimed by the opposition, it sufficed to tip Ter-Petrosian over the 50 percent mark and avoid a runoff, which the united opposition had expected to win.
Western diplomats in Yerevan said yesterday that some 200 members of opposition parties have been arrested since the September 25 violence in and around parliament. According to Western correspondents, troop and armor are cordoning off central Yerevan to prevent a resumption of pro-opposition mass demonstrations. In addition, the offices of several opposition parties have been closed down by security forces, newspapers of those parties are not being published, and two non-state radio stations in Yerevan have gone off the air.
Manukian, accused along with others of having organized an anti-government coup, is in hiding. His wife Varduhi Ishkanian-Manukian met with foreign correspondents at a clandestine location to announce that her husband’s campaign committee possesses extensive documentation of electoral fraud and will try to hand it over to international observers. She distributed a statement from Vazgen Manukian that recounts his view of the September 25 violence, which he blames on provocations by the authorities. (Noyan-Tapan, Reuter, AP, The New York Times, September 27 through 29)
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