By Karine Kalantarian
Elections to the Armenian parliament in two single-seat constituencies will have to be rerun next month due to substantial “inaccuracies” detected during the recounting of ballots, local electoral commissions decided on Thursday.
The decisions apply to the constituencies in Yerevan’s southern Shengavit district and the Armavir region in southern Armenia.
In Shengavit, victory was initially given to Versand Hakobian, a businessman not affiliated with any political party. The district election commission ordered a vote recount after facing protests from Hakobian’s main challenger, Harutiun Gharagyozian of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The commission chairwoman, Ruzanna Krunkian, told RFE/RL that the initial counting of ballots proved highly inaccurate.
Hakobian protested against the decision, rallying several dozen supporters outside the Central Election Commission in Yerevan.
In a similar move, the district commission in Armavir reconsidered its earlier decision to declare Mekhak Mkhitarian of the pro-presidential Orinats Yerkir party the winner of the local “majoritarian” race.
Elections may also be rerun in several other single-mandate constituencies where defeated candidates have cried foul, alleging large-scale fraud. One of them, located in Yerevan’s northern Kanaker-Zeytun district, was won by Manuk Gasparian, an outspoken oppositionist who has served in the outgoing parliament. Gasparian, who is backed by the opposition Artarutyun alliance, has accused his main rival affiliated with HHK of using dirty tricks to invalidate his victory.
The situation is diametrically opposite in another Yerevan constituency where the Artarutyun candidate, former Interior Minister Suren Abrahamian, is contesting his narrow defeat at the hands of the HHK’s Gevorg Hakobian. Abrahamian claims that the Republican candidate’s supporters rigged the elections during the overnight counting of ballots.
“If I had hired a film director and videotaped what happened on election night, I would have applied for an Oscar prize for the best thriller next year,” Abrahamian said jokingly.