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The un-confirmed results of Thursday's presidential elections in Nagorny Karabakh gave a landslide victory to the region's former security chief
The un-confirmed results of Thursday's presidential elections in Nagorny Karabakh, a secessionist republic in Azerbaijan, gave a landslide victory to the region's former security chief. Bako Saakyan, 47, garnered 85.42% of votes, followed by Deputy Foreign Minister Masis Mailyan, with 12.21%. Election authorities put the turnout in the small mountainous region, home to about 140,000, at 77.36%. Legislator Armen Abgaryan received 1.26%, Communist Party leader Grant Melkumyan received 0.8% of votes, and university professor Vanya Avanesyan picked up just 0.3%. The region, whose population is dominated by ethnic Armenians, declared its independence from the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in 1988, three years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, in a bid to join the Armenian Republic. Over 30,000 people were killed on both sides between 1988 and 1994, and over 100 died following a 1994 ceasefire. Incumbent President Arkady Gukasyan, whose second term expires in August, refused to run for a third presidential term, although experts have said that this is not prohibited by the breakaway republic's Constitution. A candidate must receive 50% of votes to be elected president. If no candidates pass this threshold, the two leading candidates run in a second round two weeks later. Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry condemned the election in the self-proclaimed republic as an attempt to cover up Armenia's policy aimed at occupying and annexing Azerbaijani territories. The ministry said the election was held in breach of Azerbaijan's Constitution and international law, as it disenfranchised the Azerbaijani minority in Nagorny Karabakh. Since the conflict, Nagorny Karabakh has remained under the control of the Armenian majority, but tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have persisted, and Azerbaijan is still determined to restore its control over the separatist region. Anne Derse, the United States ambassador to Azerbaijan, said the U.S. government recognized neither the election nor the republic's independence. Similar statements of non-recognition have been issued by Rene van der Linden, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, the Council of Ministers of the GUAM (a grouping of four former Soviet republics - Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova),and Turkey's government.
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