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Armenian president wins second term

President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia easily won reelection to a second five-year term, according to preliminary returns released Tuesday by the Central Election Commission.

The preliminary results showed Sargsyan with about 59 percent of the vote, enough to win the presidency outright and avoid a runoff. The former foreign minister, Raffi Hovanessian, was a distant second with about 37 percent, the returns showed.

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Armenians went to the polls Monday with Sargsyan heavily favored to win and maintain stability in a country that has become an increasingly important, if uneasy, US ally in monitoring Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

A veteran politician, Sargsyan, 58, is generally viewed as having presided over modest economic improvements in recent years, even as the country has struggled because of closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, its enemy in a continuing war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Sargsyan’s second term will be watched closely for any sign of progress in resolving the war with Azerbaijan and for any indication that Armenia would reduce support for economic sanctions against Iran, as they make life more difficult in both countries.

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh continues at a low simmer with periodic violence along the line of contact, including frequent exchanges of gunfire and occasional casualties. Peace talks led by the so-called Minsk Group, which is led by the United States, Russia, and France, have mostly stalled.

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