The Constitutional Court rejected on Saturday opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian’s appeal against the official results of Armenia’s disputed presidential election.
The court ruled after day-long deliberations that the former Armenian president and his representatives failed to substantiate their claims that the February 19 vote was rigged in favor of the establishment candidate, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
The panel of nine judges found credible only some of the purported evidence of election fraud presented by Ter-Petrosian, ordering the Office of the Prosecutor-General to investigate it. But it made clear that the alleged violations could not have affected the election outcome.
Ter-Petrosian appeared to have anticipated the rejection of his demands for a re-run of the election. None of his representatives was present at the announcement of the verdict. Hrant Nazarian, a Constitutional Court judge, took about 30 minutes to read out the verdict.
According to the government-controlled Central Election Commission (CEC), Sarkisian won the ballot outright with 52.8 percent of the vote, while Ter-Petrosian finished a distant second with 21.5 percent.
Ter-Petrosian and his allies rejected the official results as fraudulent, alleging widespread vote buying, multiple voting by Sarkisian supporters, voter intimidation and other violations. They rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan for eleven consecutive days in a bid to force the Armenian authorities to call a repeat election.
The authorities denied the allegations, pointing to international observers’ generally positive assessment of their handling of the vote. They put a violent end to the opposition protests and imposed a state of emergency in Yerevan on March 1.
Ter-Petrosian, who was placed under de facto house arrest, was allowed to make a brief appearance in the Constitutional Court to make a case for the scrapping of the official vote results on Wednesday. He said the rejection of his appeal “would result in a deficit of legitimacy that would be dangerous for both the country’s future and the Constitutional Court’s authority.”
Ter-Petrosian claimed in particular that Sarkisian’s registration as a presidential candidate was “inherently illegal” because of a law that bars serving government officials from running for president. Representatives of Sarkisian and the CEC insisted during four-day court hearings that the clause applies to civil servants and that the post of prime minister is a political one.