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Electoral Body Downplays ‘Fraud Evidence’


Armenia -- A voter casts a ballot at a polling station in Yerevan, 6Dec2015

Armenia -- A voter casts a ballot at a polling station in Yerevan, 6Dec2015

The official results of Armenia’s disputed constitutional referendum will not be annulled even if law-enforcement bodies accept opposition allegations of serious fraud in five precincts in Yerevan, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Thursday.

The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Wednesday publicized purported evidence of huge discrepancies between the vote results there released by the precinct commissions and the CEC. The HAK’s deputy chairman, Levon Zurabian, showed copies of precinct protocols indicating that most local voters rejected President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional changes. Final CEC figures showed overwhelming “Yes” votes in those communities.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), the CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, insisted that those figures are based on the protocols submitted to the CEC from those precincts. Mukuchian did not exclude that the protocols were forged by lower-level election officials.

“It’s possible that some individuals committed such crimes,” he said, adding that law-enforcement authorities should launch an investigation.

Mukuchian stressed, however, that possible fraud in the five precincts could not have had a decisive influence on the overall referendum results indicating that over 63 percent of voters backed the proposed amendments.

“Even if the results in those five precincts are invalidated, we won’t be able to register a different outcome of the vote,” he said.

Zurabian claimed the opposite on Wednesday. He portrayed the apparent discrepancies as further proof that the December 6 referendum was rigged by the Armenian authorities. The HAK has also alleged other instances of serious fraud.

The CEC, which is dominated by government loyalists, on Sunday rejected an HAK demand to declare the vote results null and void.

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