By Shakeh Avoyan
Artashes Geghamian, the third-placed presidential candidate, appealed Thursday to Armenia’s Constitutional Court to annul the results of the first-round presidential election and call a fresh ballot.
Geghamian’s proxies submitted a package of written and audiovisual documents which they said proves that the February 19 vote was tainted by widespread fraud committed by the authorities. They also ruled out the possibility of endorsing Kocharian’s main opponent, Stepan Demirchian, ahead of the March 5 run-off.
Under Armenian law the Constitutional Court has to consider election-related cases within one month from its filing. Analysts believe that it is unlikely to hand down a ruling before the second round. This makes Geghamian allies skeptical about the success of their action. One of them, Aghasi Arshakian, said the invalidation of the polls would be an “incredible” scenario.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Arshakian explained that the main purpose of the appeal is to publicize the “widespread falsifications” which the Geghamian campaign claims to have registered during the voting and counting process. “That could deter people from repeating the fraud in the future,” he said.
Official results of the first round showed Geghamian polling 17 percent of the vote and trailing Demirchian and Kocharian. The leader of the National Unity party refuses to recognize them, insisting that he won many more votes. He has also refused to throw his weight behind Demirchian, urging the latter to boycott the run-off.
A top Geghamian aide, parliament deputy Hmayak Hovannisian, said Demirchian’s participation in the second round would amount to “complicity in the election-related crimes.” He said opposition forces grouped around Demirchian are pursuing a “regime change at any cost.”
Geghamian’s campaign manager, Aleksan Karapetian, also attacked the opposition alliance for lacking “concrete program” and failing to embrace the National Unity’s detailed “anti-crisis plan” publicized before the election campaign. “They demand nothing concrete except the resignation of the incumbent president,” Karapetian said.
The pro-Demirchian alliance, which comprises the majority of leading opposition parties, has reacted negatively to Geghamian’s stance. Some of its leaders have implicitly accused him of playing into Kocharian’s hands. They also believe that most Geghamian supporters dislike the current regime and will vote for Demirchian anyway.
Arshakian admitted that they might be right in thinking so. “We believe that a considerable part of our voters are so furious with the authorities that they will go to the polls and express their views accordingly,” he said.