Masis Mayilian

Runner-Up Calls For Karabakh Election Boycott

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STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL) — Citing the coronavirus pandemic, the candidate who finished second in the first round of presidential election in Karabakh (Artsakh) has called on supporters to boycott a runoff vote scheduled for April 14.

Masis Mayilyan has at the same time refrained from withdrawing from the race.

Official results of the March 31 election showed Ara Harutiunyan, a wealthy businessman and Artsakh’s former prime minister, winning over 49 percent of the vote. Mayilyan garnered 26.4 percent, leading to a runoff.

The vote went ahead despite serious concerns about the spread of coronavirus in Karabakh. Mayilyan and several other presidential candidates demanded its postponement during the election campaign. The authorities in Stepanakert countered that precautionary measures taken by them helped to prevent any coronavirus cases in Artsakh so far.

In a weekend statement, Mayilyan, who is also Artsakh outgoing foreign minister, said his supporters should stay away from polling stations on April 14 because of the “growing danger of coronavirus.”

He also criticized the authorities’ handling of the polls, saying it was “very far” from Artsakh residents’ expectations of democratization. He cited in that regard the findings of election observers from Armenia that reported voter irregularities.

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Still, Mayilyan “took note” of the official results and stopped short of explicitly rejecting them as fraudulent.

The election runner-up has avoided any contacts with the media since March 31.

The chairwoman of Artsakh’s Central Election Commission (CEC), Srbuhi Arzumanian, said it has received no formal notifications from Mayilyan about his withdrawal from the race. This means, she said, that his name will be on the ballot on April 14.

Meanwhile, Harutiunyan signaled support for the holding of the second round. “There are only several days to go [before the runoff,] and we should … finish the elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service from Stepanakert.

Asked whether he is urging supporters to again go to the polls, Harutiunyan said: “Let the CEC announce the final results [of the first round] first and I will appeal to my compatriots after that.”

Karabakh Armenians also elected on March 31 their new parliament. Harutiunyan’s Free Fatherland party won more than 40 percent of those votes and will have the largest number of parliament seats.

Chair of the Central Electoral Commission of Artsakh Srbuhi Arzumanyan said at a press conference, according to Armenpress, that the 5 political parties which will be represented in the newly-elected Parliament of Artsakh, are the Free Fatherland bloc, United Fatherland, Justice, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and Democratic parties of Artsakh.

Twelve parties and blocs were taking part in the parliamentary election. Here is the list of parties with the respective votes received:

National Revival – 2,360 votes or 3.2%

United Fatherland – 17,365 or 23.63%

Independence Generation – 656 or 0.9%

ARF – 4,717 or 6.4%

Revolutionary Party of Artsakh – 1,660 or 2.26%

Free Fatherland bloc – 29,688 or 40.4%

Justice Party – 5,865 or 7.9%

Democratic Party of Artsakh – 4,269 or 5.81%

Unified Armenia Party – 958 or 1.3%

Conservative Party of Artsakh – 2,108 or 2.87%

Communist Party of Nagorno Karabakh – 480 or 0.65%

New Artsakh bloc – 3,305 or 4.5%

 

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