Armenia declares state of emergency
( AP )- Armenia's president imposed a state of emergency Saturday after police used tear gas and fired shots into the air to disperse demonstrators protesting allege fraud in last month's presidential election.
The announcement from the office of President Robert Kocharian came shortly after police broke up the rally of about 15,000 demonstrators. Earlier, police used batons to disperse a tent camp of hundreds of protesters in a square near the city mayor's office.
The police moved in before 7 a.m. and began forcing protesters onto buses. A few clashes broke out on the central Yerevan square.
Demonstrators later regrouped and marched through the city, overturning some cars and breaking windows.
There were no immediate reports of injuries from the later rally. The Armenian Health Ministry said 10 people were hospitalized from the morning clash, but did not say how severe their injuries were nor how many of the injured were police.
The opposition has protested the results of the Feb. 19 presidential election results and tried to force a new vote. Rallies daily have drawn tens of thousands of people; a few hundred remained at the square each night in tents.
Officials say Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian - the favored successor of Kocharian - won the vote outright. But supporters of opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian have rejected the results, alleging fraud.
The observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said there were concerns about the vote count, but it issued a generally positive assessment.
Ter-Petrosian, a former president of Armenia, appealed to the Constitutional Court on Friday to overturn the results.
Security police on Saturday prevented Tar-Petrosian from leaving his residence, but he told reporters that he was not under formal house arrest.
"If he is accused of committing a crime, he should be properly charged and prosecuted in a court of law like anyone else. In a democracy you cannot arbitrarily detain political opponents," said Terry Davis, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, the continent's main human rights body.
The standoff has raised concerns of instability in the poor Caucasus nation at the junction of the energy-rich Caspian Sea region and southern Europe, with Russia and Iran nearby.