The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Friday formally petitioned the Central Election Commission (CEC) to invalidate the official results of the disputed December 6 referendum on President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional changes.
HAK representatives submitted to the CEC what the opposition party calls evidence of serious fraud which allowed Sarkisian to secure a “Yes” vote for the sweeping changes that will transform Armenia into a parliamentary republic.
“It may be naïve to pin hopes on these electoral bodies, but even if there is a 0.1 percent chance [of success,] we must take it,” one of them, Armen Khachatrian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Who knows? Maybe the 0.1 percent will one day become 100 percent.”
According to the referendum results released by the CEC, over 63 percent of voters backed the constitutional reform. The CEC put voter turnout at about 51 percent, just enough to make the referendum valid.
The official tally has been rejected as fraudulent by the HAK, other opposition groups resisting the constitutional reform as well as Armenian civic groups that deployed hundreds of observers in polling stations across the country.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday, Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman, stood by the party’s claims that only up to one-third of Armenia’s 2.5 eligible voters cast ballots on Sunday and that 70 percent of them rejected the proposed amendments.
Zurabian challenged the Armenian authorities to randomly pick 5 precincts and publish the official lists of local residents who supposedly voted in the referendum. He said a detailed examination of those lists would show that many voters did not actually go to the polls on Sunday.
“Republican falsifiers keep those lists as a top state secret because they know that if those lists are publicized and examined it will become clear that they completely breached the will of the Armenian people,” claimed Zurabian.
The CEC, which is dominated by government loyalists, will almost certainly reject the HAK demand to declare the referendum null and void.
Zurabian said earlier this week that the HAK and its opposition allies are ready to take their case to Armenia’s Constitutional Court. Such an appeal would have to be backed by at least 27 members of the Armenian parliament. The HAK holds only a handful of seats in the National Assembly.