Unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Referendum Passes, 87 Percent Approve

Residents of the separatist region of Azerbaijan currently under Armenian occupation, the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, have voted in an unrecognized constitutional referendum to switch to a fully presidential form of government and to adopt the official name of “the Republic of Artsakh”.

87.6 percent of ballots cast (69,540) voted in favor of the amendments.

79,380 citizens (75.91 percent) of 104,566 eligible voters had cast their votes by 8 p.m. last night.

Speaker of the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament Ashot Gulyan said that the constitutional amendments will provide for a more efficient government.

“The change is aimed at strengthening the mechanisms of ensuring the security of our country, its democracy, the protection of human rights and the efficacy of governance”, Mr. Gulyan told journalists.

Voters cast ballots in 280 polling stations.

According to Srbuhi Arzumanian, the head of Nagorno-Karabakh’s electoral commission, more than 104 election monitors from more than 30 countries were expected to oversee the process,  reported the euobserver.

According to the same, even those who had to flee from the village of Talish during the fighting of the 4-Day War of 2016 in April were eligible to vote.

Voting started at 8 A.M. and lasted until 8 P.M. local time.

The international community largely criticized the referendum. On Saturday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev condemned the referendum as illegal.

“The referendum... is illegal and by holding it the Armenian side proves once again that it is not interested in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict”.

Neighboring countries such as Turkey and Iran in addition to Western countries have also stated that the referendum lacks legitimacy.

Bahram Qasemi, the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that “the holding of a referendum inNagorno-Karabakh is an inappropriate, misguided and unacceptable step”, Mr. Qasemi told APA.

Member of the Azerbaijani National Public Committee for European Integration Toghrul Juvarli told the Caucasian Knot that “the holding of this referendum, by the very fact that the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh is entirely absent, undermines its allegedly democratic character.”

In turn, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Gajiyev told reporters on Monday that “so-called ‘monitors’ of this so-called ‘referendum’...will be included on the Ministry’s list of personae non gratae in Azerbaijan”.

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