By Karine Kalantarian
Lawyers for defeated presidential candidate Stepan Demirchian began on Saturday making their case for the annulment of last month’s presidential election with lengthy speeches at the Armenian Constitutional Court.
It was the second court session on an appeal filed by Demirchian following the March 5 run-off vote, the official results of which showed incumbent President Robert Kocharian winning a second term in office.
The session began with a two-and-a-half-hour speech given by Victor Dallakian, a senior parliamentarian representing the opposition leader’s interests. Dallakian accused electoral authorities of violating nine articles of Armenia’s constitution and 36 different provisions of the electoral code. He charged that the reported vote irregularities were part of a premeditated government plot to keep Kocharian in power.
“The violations registered during the preparation and holding of the elections significantly affected the election results,” he told the panel of nine judges. “We are asking the Constitutional Court to declare them invalid.”
Dallakian focused on the lead-up to the disputed election during which he said Demirchian was subjected to “information terror” by the authorities and their loyal media.
In a separate speech, the second lawyer representing Demirchian, Ashot Sargsian, put the emphasis on alleged widespread falsifications during the voting and counting processes. Sargsian is due to present what the Demirchian campaign claims is evidence of vote rigging at the next hearing on Sunday.
Representatives of the Central Election Commission (CEC) will likely reject most of that. The CEC has acknowledged only minor irregularities in the electoral process which it says did not affect the vote outcome.
The Constitutional Court is unlikely to deliver its verdict before Kocharian’s inauguration due on April 9. The Demirchian-led opposition plans to get thousands of supporters to the streets of Yerevan on that day. The protest could overshadow the official ceremony.