US calls for end to violence in Armenia
( dpa )- The United States has spoken with Armenia's government and opposition leaders to urge a resumption of political dialogue and an end to violent clashes, US officials said late Saturday.
The outgoing Armenian president declared a state of emergency late Saturday after one person was killed in continuing clashes between police and opposition supporters angry that their candidate, Levon Ter-Petrosian, did not win recent elections.
"Both sides are responsible for helping to re-establish order and return to political dialogue. Any unlawful actions such as violence and looting worsen the situation and must stop," Sean McCormack, spokesman for the US State Department, said in a statement.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried had spoken with Armenian Prime Minisiter Serzh Sarkisian, while the US charge d'affaires in Armenia had been in touch with the opposition.
"The US deeply regrets todays unrest in Yerevan, Armenia, and calls on all sides to avoid further violence, act fully within the law, exercise maximum restraint, and resume political dialogue," McCormack said.
"We hope that the state of emergency declared today will be lifted promptly and that political dialogue resumes," McCormack said.
The state of emergency was declared by outgoing President Robert Kocharian after violent protests in the capital, Yerevan, which followed police action Friday night, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Police moved in to clear dozens of tents used in a downtown camp for sit-ins and demonstrators loyal to Ter-Petrosian, who claim the February 19 presidential election he lost had been rigged.
Ter-Petrosian, who won 21.43 per cent of the vote, accused the government during the election of a slew of violations including the beating and kidnapping of supporters.
Official results from the Central Election Committee (CEC) showed that Sarkisian took 52.86 per cent of the vote with the final ballots counted.
The results put Sarkisian just over the 50 per cent needed to avoid a run-off with the second-place finisher after a bitterly contested election campaign.