OSCE chairman condemns use of force in Armenia, calls for dialogue

16:05 | 01/ 03/ 2008

VIENNA, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - The OSCE chairman-in-office, Finnish
Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, has condemned the use of force against
peaceful demonstrators in Yerevan earlier on Saturday.

Armenian riot police broke up a protest rally in the capital Yerevan
by several thousand people protesting the results of the February 19
presidential election in the Caucasus republic.

"I urge the authorities to use maximum restraint. I am troubled that
there are reports of casualties. I urge the authorities to release
those detained, and I again call on the government and the opposition
to engage in dialogue," the minister said.

He said the OSCE was ready to continue helping the country as it
attempts to consolidate its democracy and address shortcomings noted
by OSCE and other observers during the presidential election process.

"The OSCE considers dialogue central to stability. At this important
stage in Armenia's development, everything should be done to avoid
any escalation of tension," Kanerva said.

Police used truncheons, tear gas and electric stun guns to disperse
the crowd.

According to some reports, police have detained opposition presidential
candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan won with 52.82% of the
vote. His nearest rivals, Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan
and ex-parliamentary speaker Artur Bagdasaryan received 21.5% and
17.7%, respectively. Six other candidates gained less than 10% of
the votes.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress