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Opposition Leader Backs ‘Anti-Fraud’ Appeal To Court


Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian is embraced by a supporter during an election campaign event in Yerevan, 1May2012.

Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian is embraced by a supporter during an election campaign event in Yerevan, 1May2012.

Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of the Zharangutyun (Heritage), voiced support on Wednesday for an election-related appeal to the Constitutional Court filed by two other major opposition groups and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

Hovannisian said the BHK, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) are right to demand that electoral authorities publish the lists of voters who will have cast their ballots in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The three political forces say that this is essential for preventing fraudulent voting in favor of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and that Armenia’s allegedly inflated voter registers allow the authorities to resort to such falsifications. They want the Constitutional Court to declare unconstitutional a legal provision that bans election commissions from publicizing the names of actual voters.

The court is expected to consider and rule on the appeal on Saturday. The HHK has rejected the opposition demand backed by Zharangutyun, saying that releasing those lists would breach the secrecy of ballot.

“In our opinion, that is not a violation of the secrecy of ballot,” Hovannisian told reporters in the northern city of Vanadzor. “Therefore, we agree with the demands presented by our partners to the Constitutional Court. We hope that the court will make the right decision.”

A BHK leader, Vartan Oskanian, spoke last week of “tens of thousands of inaccuracies” which he said his party has found in national voter rolls. He claimed that those include names of bogus voters simultaneously registered at various electoral districts with slightly altered names.

Levon Zurabian, an HAK leader, pointed to an “abnormally” large number of households with ten or more registered voters. He said HAK campaigners have also detected voters listed as residents of non-existent or abandoned apartments buildings in Yerevan.

Garnik Sahakian, a Zharangutyun candidate in a single-mandate constituency in Vanadzor, likewise complained about the lists available on the Internet. “There is an apartment with 27 registered voters,” he said. “But I went there I didn’t find those residents.”

The head of Armenia’s largest election-monitoring organization, It’s Your Choice, expressed similar concerns at a news conference in Yerevan on Wednesday. Harutiun Hambardzumian reported instances of a disproportionately large number of voters registered in single apartments or at non-existent addresses. “There are streets that I haven’t heard about before,” he said.

Still, Hambardzumian was by and large satisfied with the course of the current election campaign, saying that it has been remarkably peaceful and orderly. There have been few instances of government officials and loyalists bullying voters, attacking opposition campaigners or obstructing their campaigning, he said.
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