“The Constitutional Court is Kocharian’s stooge,” thunders “Aravot” in response to Wednesday’s court ruling confirming the outcome of the Armenian presidential election. “The only legal decision the Constitutional Court should have taken is to nullify the presidential elections. But it left intact the Central Election Commission’s decision to declare Kocharian president. Thus, the court became an accomplice to the circulation of thousands of extra ballots and their stuffing in Kocharian’s favor; falsification of [vote] protocols; the intimidation and bribing of proxies and electoral commission members; and repressions unleashed by the state apparatus during and after the elections. This is what matters. The rest is just empty talk and non-binding play on words aimed at saving the Constitutional Court’s face.”
“Aravot” also shrugs off the court’s call for a “referendum of confidence” on Kocharian’s legitimacy. “But even if, miraculously, such a referendum is held, it will take place just like the presidential elections of 2003 did,” the paper concludes.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes the Constitutional Court verdict as “equivocal and murky.” The ruling requires “further explanation,” the paper says.
“What happened was due to happen,” comments “Orran,” another newspaper sympathetic to opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian. It says the court decided to back some of the opposition allegations of vote rigging in order to leave some semblance of a fair process.
“Ayb-Fe” uses stronger terms, denouncing court chairman Gagik Harutiunian as an “ordinary hypocrite who too has effectively stolen votes with his decision.”
The pro-government papers also have reason to be unhappy with Harutiunian. “In accordance with his habit, Harutiunian is again playing on two strings,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “If the Constitutional Court’s decision yesterday does not dispel public mistrust [in the election], then why does that court exist?”
“This is not even a trap; this is a deadlock,” Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Hovannisian says if the court sees the need for a national referendum on the credibility of the election, it “should have had the courage to invalidate the election results.” “But if the court’s decision upholds Robert Kocharian’s reelection, what is the point of a referendum?” he asks, adding that the court did not suggest any mechanisms for the implementation of its recommendations.
“Yerkir” says the court ruling will deepen “the atmosphere of suspicion” surrounding the presidential ballot. “Instead of dispelling all kinds of questions and disagreements, the Constitutional Court has engendered new questions and brought about new disagreements, new suspicions with its decision,” the paper writes, suggesting the following explanation: “With this decision Gagik Harutiunian starts a new political process aimed at limiting the legitimacy of the country’s political institutions for at least a year and increasing the political clout of the Constitutional Court or, more precisely, its chairman. In essence, the Constitutional Court seems to be suggesting a new presidential candidate.”