Observers say Armenia vote fell short of commitments

YEREVAN Mon May 7, 2012 6:19am EDT

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YEREVAN (Reuters) - International monitors praised Armenia on Monday for conducting a peaceful parliamentary election but criticized violations of campaign law and interference by political parties in the vote won by President Serzh Sarksyan's ruling party.

The mixed assessment followed a vote which Armenian leaders hoped would be a landmark for democracy after irregularities marred the last parliamentary election in 2007 and clashes killed 10 people after the presidential vote in 2008.

"Armenia deserves recognition for its electoral reforms and its open and peaceful campaign environment," said Francois-Xavier de Donnea, head of the observer mission from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

However, he added that "in this race, several stakeholders too often failed to comply with the law and election commissions too often failed to enforce it."

"As a result, the international commitments to which Armenia has freely subscribed were not always respected," he said in a statement.

Election day was generally calm and peaceful, but marked by organizational problems and undue interference in the process, mostly by party representatives, the observers said.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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