By Hrach Melkumian and Harry Tamrazian
Armenia’s main opposition block in the parliament continued on Friday to press charges against central election commission in the constitutional court. Armenia’s main opposition alliance, which won 14 percent of party seats, refuses to recognize the official results claiming that it won the May 25 parliamentary elections. Artarutiun now demands to invalidate the official results of last month’s disputed elections of 75 party seats.
The representative of the opposition block Artarutiun (Justice) Artak Zeinalian accused the ministry of justice for plotting electoral fraud against the opposition candidates during presidential elections. “The mechanism of the electoral fraud during the presidential elections was planned in the Ministry of Justice”, Zeinalian told RFE/RL on Friday.
The fact that the senior government official is representing the central election commission in the constitutional court raised serious questions on whether the Armenian government breached the law by defending an independent body.
The deputy minister of justice Gagik Mukuchian dismissed the accusation by saying that he took vacation and he is now representing the CEC in the court as a private person. “ The commission asked me to represent its case in the court and I have agreed. I worked for them as a lawyer, without pay”, Mukuchian told RFE/RL.
Meanwhile, the lawyer of the opposition block Artarurtiun (Justice) claimed that Gagik Mukuchian was in fact monitoring CEC activity during parliamentary elections. The deputy minister was at the central election commission all the time and he was supervising the “process of electoral fraud”, Zeinalian said.
In today’s court session CEC representative Mukuchian has rejected all charges of the opposition block Artarutiun, describing them as groundless. But as the lawyer of Artarutiun Artak Zeinalian said, the central election commission must prove that the case is groundless. “We are just disputing a legal act, it is up to them to prove that the elections were free and fair”, Zenialian said.
OSCE and Council of Europe observers, who closely monitored May 25 poll, reported numerous irregularities, including ballot box stuffing. The Armenian authorities admit vote irregularities. However, the government claims that irregularities didn’t affect the outcome of the parliamentary vote.
The constitutional court will consider the lawsuit against CEC next Monday. Armenia’s highest court should rule on the opposition lawsuit no later than July 7.