Armenia’s Constitutional Court opened hearings on Friday on an appeal against official results of this month’s parliamentary elections that was lodged by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
The HAK wants the court to declare the vote null and void because of what it calls serious fraud that benefited President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the official election winner.
“The elections were held with mass and systematic violations organized by the state, which had a substantial impact on the election results,” the HAK coordinator, Levon Zurabian, told the panel of nine judges.
Zurabian and Vahe Grigorian, a lawyer representing the opposition alliance, alleged widespread vote buying, multiple voting in the HHK’s favor and misuse of government resources by the ruling party. Grigorian pointed to Sarkisian’s and other state officials’ active involvement in the campaign.
“These officials participated in the pre-election campaign while performing their state and local government duties and making use of all benefits made possible by their positions,” he said.
The lawyer also claimed that the Armenian authorities’ deliberately failed to prevent multiple voting by rejecting opposition demands for the lists of voters taking part in the elections to be published after the ballot. The Constitutional Court upheld the legality of that rejection in a ruling handed down the day before the elections.
The court’s chairman, Gagik Harutiunian, and other judges challenged the HAK representatives to present concrete facts in support of their allegations. Zurabian admitted a lack of such evidence, saying that “the state apparatus worked for the HHK brilliantly.”
Tigran Mukuchian, the chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) attending the hearing, brushed aside this explanation. Mukuchian and other CEC representatives will make their case against invalidating the elections at the next court session slated for Tuesday.
“I have looked into the appeal and think that it contains no serious arguments that could serve as a basis for disputing the election results,” Mukuchian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after the first hearing.
The CEC and the Armenian government maintain that the May 6 elections were free and fair.
Nearly 300 foreign observers mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have given a mixed assessment of the election conduct. In their preliminary findings made public on May 7, they praised the pre-election environment in the country but said there were irregularities in a “significant number” of polling stations on election day.