By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s Constitutional Court annulled on Monday the official results of last month’s parliamentary election in a constituency in the northwestern Shirak region, saying that the vote was fraudulent and should be rerun.
The ruling followed repeat elections on Sunday in three other “majoritarian” constituencies in Yerevan as well as the southern Armavir and central Kotayk regions. They were ordered by the Central Election (CEC) after fraud complaints lodged by some candidates.
The weekend polling, which was reportedly calm, gave additional seats to the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its junior coalition partner, Orinats Yerkir. An HHK candidate, Harutyun Gharagyozian, was declared the winner of the by-election in Yerevan after official figures showed him easily beating his main rival, businessman Versand Hakobian.
The local election commission said it received 12 complaints from the defeated candidate’s proxies and will look into them on Tuesday. There was no immediate reaction from Hakobian.
The Kotayk constituency was again swept by Sasun Mikaelian, a non-partisan candidate affiliated with the once powerful Yerkrapah Union of Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans. Mikaelian, who served in the previous Armenia parliament, became famous in 2000 for stating publicly that he and other members of Yerkrapah had falsified the 1998 presidential elections in President Robert Kocharian’s favor. The statement was made at the height of a bitter government infighting in Yerevan.
Orinats Yerkir’s Mekhak Mkhitarian prevailed in Armavir, raising to 23 the number of seats held by his party in the parliament. Orinats Yerkir already boasted the second largest faction in the 131-member National Assembly. The HHK, which is led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, has 39 seats.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling offset the Republican gain in Yerevan as it invalidated the May 25 victory in the Shirak constituency of Mkhitar Varagian, a candidate backed by Markarian’s party. That victory was challenged by the local candidates of Orinats Yerkir and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the third coalition party.
Under Armenian law, the CEC is to hold repeat elections there within the next three weeks.