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Opposition Candidates Voice Election Concerns


Armenia - Opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian campaigns in Yerevan, 27Jan2013.

Armenia - Opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian campaigns in Yerevan, 27Jan2013.

The three main opposition candidates in Armenia’s upcoming presidential election expressed concern about its proper conduct and demanded urgent anti-fraud measures in a joint statement issued on Monday.

Hrant Bagratian, Paruyr Hayrikian and Raffi Hovannisian demanded that the Armenian authorities publicize lists of voters absent from the country and stop using administrative resources to ensure President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection.

The statement says that the names of Armenian citizens living abroad must be posted at polling stations separately from those of other voters residing in the country. It says this is necessary for preventing fraudulent voting on behalf of absent voters.

Armenia’s leading opposition forces claim that hundreds of thousands of such bogus ballots were cast for Sarkisian and his Republican Party in the last national elections. The authorities, which control various-level electoral commissions, strongly deny this.

The three opposition candidates said that the authorities and Sarkisian in particular must also end “administrative pressure” on public sector employees and army conscripts ahead of the February 18 election.

“The vicious practice of creating an atmosphere of fear and terrorizing citizens employed in the public sector must be ruled out,” reads their statement. “Any vote rigging or instance of similar irregularities will be regarded by us as an unconstitutional activity.”

Hovannisian already claimed last week that schoolteachers and civil servants are being forced to vote for Sarkisian. He threatened to declare the vote unconstitutional if the alleged practice continues.

The authorities insist that they will do their best to ensure that the presidential ballot is the most democratic in Armenia’s history.
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