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Constitutional Court Opens Hearings On Opposition Election Appeal


Armenia -- The Constitutional Court opens hearings on opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian's appeal, 11Mar2013.

Armenia -- The Constitutional Court opens hearings on opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian's appeal, 11Mar2013.

The Constitutional Court opened on Monday hearings on opposition candidate Raffi Hovannisian’s appeal against official results of Armenia’s February 19 presidential election.

Hovannisian appealed to the court last week to annul those results and declare him the real winner of the vote. His representatives presented the court with a 16-page document containing purported evidence of widespread fraud.

The document contains not only instances of alleged violations but also claims that Sarkisian exceeded the legal limit on campaign spending set at 100 million drams ($245,000). It also faults the authorities for refusing to publish the lists of Armenians who went to the polls on February 18 and thus disprove opposition allegations that scores of fake ballots marked for Sarkisian were cast on behalf of Armenians absent from the country.

“The official results of elections held amid public distrust, a widespread sense that their outcome is predetermined and numerous systematic irregularities are not credible and not accepted by the public,” Karen Mezhlumian, a legal counselor to Hovannisian, said in his opening remarks.

The Constitutional Court judges pressed the opposition representatives to demonstrate documentary evidence of fraud. One of them, Felix Tokhian, challenged Mezhlumian to explain why very few election commission members appointed by the Hovannisian campaign formally protested against the official results in their respective communities.

“I know that you had more than 1,000 proxies and about 1,900 commission members. How many of them complained and tried to counter [alleged fraud] in a manner defined by law?” he asked.

“The Constitutional Court as well as other courts cannot make decisions on the basis of presumptions,” Tokhian added after hearing no clear answer.

The court is due to hand down a verdict on the appeal by Friday. Hovannisian aides admit that it is unlikely to back the opposition claims.
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