Despite widespread opposition and domestic observer claims of violence and intimidation, an international observation team has deemed Armenia's February 19 presidential vote a step forward in the country's start-and-stop process toward Western-style democracy.
The election "was administered mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards," Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President Anne-Marie Lizin, head of the organization's short-term observer mission, told reporters in Yerevan on February 20. The mission -- comprising observers from 42 OSCE member states, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament -- monitored balloting at over half of Armenia's 1,923 polling stations.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for the ArmeniaNow.com weekly in Yerevan. Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNets Caucasus News Editor.