By Shakeh Avoyan
Armenian prosecutors will investigate the alleged widespread irregularities which led the Constitutional Court to annul the results of a parliamentary by-election in the northwestern Shirak province, officials said on Wednesday.
Felix Tokhian, one of the court’s nine judges, told RFE/RL that the office of prosecutor-general has opened a criminal case into what he described as a large-scale vote manipulation.
The court ruled over the weekend to strip the official winner of the May 16 polls, Hakob Matilian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), of his parliamentary mandate and demanded that they be re-run. The move followed a complaint lodged by Matilian’s main challenger representing a small opposition party, Democratic Fatherland.
“The elections were a disgrace,” Tokhian said. “We had never come across such large-scale irregularities.”
The Constitutional Court found that voter lists in 11 rural precincts, where more than one third of the constituency’s 31,000 voters are registered, were not certified by local authorities. It also backed allegations that vote results in other communities were falsified.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) decided on Wednesday to hold the repeat elections in Shirak on July 14.
Hamlet Abrahamian, a CEC member representing Dashnaktsutyun, said his party disagrees with the court verdict but will “obey” it. “We are already preparing for the new elections,” he said, adding that Matilian “will definitely win” again.