A member of Armenia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday expressed concern over irregularities reported during last month’s presidential election, saying that they have fuelled public distrust in its official results.
Kim Balayan spoke of many Armenians’ “dissatisfaction” with the official vote results as he questioned a police representative during a court hearing on opposition appeals to annul the February 18 vote. He said he wants to have a “clear conscience” when deciding whether to back the appeals lodged by Raffi Hovannisian, the main opposition candidate, and Andreas Ghukasian, an election outsider.
The 9-member court is due to hand down its verdict on Thursday. Few expect it to invalidate President Serzh Sarkisian’s disputed victory. The Armenian authorities insist that there were only minor violations that could not have affected the election outcome.
“Whether or not those violations affected the overall [election result] is a separate matter,” said Balayan. “But it’s obvious that there were violations.” He wondered if law-enforcement authorities need “additional levers” to detect fraud.
Representatives of the police and prosecutors testifying at the hearing said the police investigated over 250 reports of fraud but in the vast majority of those cases presumed eyewitnesses were unwilling to come forward when contacted by law-enforcement officers. Zaruhi Postanjian, a representative of Hovannisian, attributed this to an “atmosphere of fear.”