By Gayane Danielian
Artur Baghdasarian, a former parliament speaker and opposition presidential candidate, on Tuesday cast doubt on the credibility of official election results, alleging widespread vote buying and other irregularities.
“The legitimacy of these elections is serious doubt, as far as our people are concerned,” he said.
According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), Baghdasarian polled more than 16 percent of the vote, trailing Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian who got 52.8 percent and 21.5 percent respectively.
The leader of the Orinats Yerkir Party claimed that he won considerably more votes than were shown by the CEC. He said this was the result of a deliberate miscounting of ballots and other violations committed by election officials on polling day.
However, Baghdasarian would not say if he thinks those violations were serious enough to influence the overall election outcome. “We will give our assessment of the election results the day after tomorrow,” he said, not ruling out the possibility of recognizing Sarkisian’s hotly disputed victory.
Baghdasarian also criticized the authorities for arresting leading supporters of Ter-Petrosian in response to his campaign of non-stop street protests against the official vote results. The 40-year-old ex-speaker also faulted Ter-Petrosian for describing himself as the rightful winner of the vote.
Relations between the two opposition candidates deteriorated sharply after Baghdasarian refused to drop out of the presidential race in Ter-Petrosian’s favor. The latter condemned the move as “treason.”
Baghdasarian revealed on Tuesday that he is engaged in a fresh “political dialogue” with the Ter-Petrosian camp but made it clear that he will not join the popular movement led by the ex-president. “I can’t join a man who has declared himself president,” he told reporters.