By Ruzanna Stepanian and Hovannes Shoghikian
Armenia’s opposition on Monday branded as ‘political’ the previous day’s verdict passed by the Constitutional Court turning down election appeals from four political forces.
Aram Sarkisian, the leader of the radical opposition Hanrapetutyun party that had demanded the invalidation of party-list election results along with allies – the New Times party and the Impeachment alliance, said they hadn’t expected any other verdict after Robert Kocharian put the legitimacy of the elections beyond all doubts at the National Assembly’s opening session last Thursday.
“I am fully convinced that the evidence that we presented in parliament was enough to invalidate ten such elections,” Sarkisian said in an RFE/RL interview.
Heghine Bisharian, a senior representative of the Orinats Yerkir party, called the Constitutional Court’s verdict a ‘political decision’.
“We have already stated that the Constitutional Court has administered political rather than constitutional justice,” she charged. “This spineless court this time again has beaten everyone’s expectations by turning the proceedings into a farce… It means we don’t have an independent Constitutional Court.”
Ex-parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s party, which is the only of the four claimants that won representation in parliament in the May 12 elections, had sought a recount of ballots in 10 percent of some 2,000 polling stations across Armenia.
It took Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Harutiunian some 80 minutes to read out a 47-page verdict that the Court arrived at as a result of a ten-day proceeding.
The Court found that a number of provisions and articles of the Electoral Code could be interpreted in more ways than one. It also established that there were violations in separate polling stations, however, it said the violations could not impact the vote outcome.
The Court’s verdict was read out in the absence of representatives of the opposition who had boycotted the sessions since late last week in protest of what they alleged to be a “political farce”.
The opposition push to invalidate the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) decision on the election result was also supported by fellow oppositionists outside the courtroom.
“The Constitutional Court has not changed its face,” said Felix Khachatrian, who represented the opposition Artarutyun alliance at the CEC. “It repeated its style of work that we also witnessed during the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2003.”
U.S.-born ex-foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage party, which is also represented in Armenia’s fourth National Assembly, had been supportive of the opposition claims.
Heritage party spokesman Hovsep Khurshudian regretted the Court’s decision, saying they had expected “a more unbiased and comprehensive investigation.”
“The course of the proceedings showed that there were certain episodes of guidance there,” he said, adding that the Constitutional Court’s decision more looked like a political decision.
Heritage representatives that had won seats in the legislature did not collect their mandates last week. One of the conditions for their decision then was the ongoing proceedings at the Constitutional Court in connection with the appeals challenging the legitimacy of the elections.