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Armenia president wins re-election

YEREVAN, Armenia — Incumbent Robert Kocharian easily won re-election in a presidential runoff seen as a test of Armenia's democracy, but the opposition and observers said the vote had serious flaws.

With votes from all but one of the 1,865 electoral districts counted, Kocharian had 67.5 percent and challenger Stepan Demirchian had 32.5 percent, Central Election Commission officials said Thursday.

Wednesday's runoff was forced when Kocharian fell just short of the 50 percent he needed to win a Feb. 19 election outright. Demirchian was the second-highest vote-getter.

The opposition cried foul.

"The second round proceeded under a scenario prepared by the authorities, with massive legal violations and in an environment of intimidation and violence," Demirchian told his supporters overnight. "The outcome of this election has nothing to do with the people's choice."

Demirchian campaign chief Grigor Arutyunian accused the election commission of violations including the removal of opposition representatives from local election commissions and ballot-box stuffing. The opposition alleged that 400 soldiers were used to cast multiple ballots in various precincts, and that its representatives were kicked out during the count.

Demirchian, 43, ran on an anti-corruption platform and also tried to attract voters using the political image of his father, Soviet-era Communist leader Karen Demirchian.