Armenia’s Constitutional Court began on Tuesday considering two appeals against the official results of last month’s presidential election which were lodged by Levon Ter-Petrosian and another presidential candidate.
Ter-Petrosian says the February 19 vote, controversially won by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, was marred by widespread fraud and must be rerun. The demands have been rejected as unlawful by the Central Election Commission (CEC) and Sarkisian. The latter’s legal representatives are taking part in the court hearings as a “third party.”
The hearings began under a state of emergency declared by outgoing President Robert Kocharian on Saturday amid a deadly government crackdown on Ter-Petrosian supporters demanding a repeat election. The Constitutional Court and other major government buildings in Yerevan are being guarded by soldiers armed with automatic weapons as part of emergency rule.
Ter-Petrosian’s representative demanded that the court order the soldiers away from its building, saying that their presence could exert undue psychological pressure on the panel of nine judges. The court rejected that demand but accepted another petition that calls on the authorities to enable Ter-Petrosian to attend the hearings.
The former Armenian president has been kept under de facto house arrest since the break-up on Saturday of his non-stop protest in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. The authorities insist that he is free to leave his house overlooking the city center but only without his state-funded security detail.
The Constitutional Court will consider this and the other appeal filed by presidential candidate Tigran Karapetian, who got less than 1 percent of the vote, simultaneously and has to hand down a ruling on Saturday at the latest.