By Emil Danielyan
The Central Election Commission (CEC) delayed late Saturday the publication of the final results of the first round of Armenia’s presidential election.
CEC officials said they will not announce the nationwide final tally because of lawsuits against lower-lever electoral bodies filed by opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian’s proxies. The CEC discussed instead preparations for the March 5 run-off between Demirchian and President Robert Kocharian.
Under the Armenian electoral code, the CEC must complete the final vote count and publicize its outcome within 72 hours from the closure of polls if there are no lawsuits pending against it. But it has to complete the counting process within six days in any case. That means the final results are to be made public on Tuesday at the latest.
The delay prolonged uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the February 19 ballot. The CEC has not released any fresh data since its chairman Artak Sahradian’s unexpected Thursday announcement that the election will go into a run-off.
Demirchian’s campaign chief, Grigor Harutiunian, said the candidate does not recognize the preliminary results of the election which gave him 28 percent of the vote against Kocharian’s 49.8 percent. Demirchian’s proxies have demanded a ballot recount in more than 100 polling stations. Harutiunian said they might eventually take their case to the Constitutional Court.
“We believe that the CEC is not performing its duties and preventing irregularities,” he told RFE/RL. “Furthermore, it seems to be sponsoring those who commit [election-related] crimes.”
The electoral body already missed by several hours a Thursday deadline for the publication of the nationwide preliminary results, blaming the delay on heavy snowfall. However, it did not explain why Armenia’s most mountainous and least accessible Syunik province as well as other remote areas completed the vote count much quicker than the capital Yerevan.