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.