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Government Signals No Major Concessions On Election Law


Armenia - Davit Harutiunian, the chief of the government staff, speaks in parliament, Yerevan, 16Mar2016.

Armenia - Davit Harutiunian, the chief of the government staff, speaks in parliament, Yerevan, 16Mar2016.

The Armenian government continued to reject significant concessions demanded by opposition and civic groups on Wednesday as it began negotiating with them on its new draft Electoral Code.

Davit Harutiunian, the chief of the government staff and main author of the code, again rejected legal safeguards against multiple voting that have been proposed by critics of President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration.

Those include post-election disclosure of the names of those eligible voters who went to the polls and cast ballots on election day. The Armenian opposition also wants their fingers to be marked with indelible ink.

“Believe me, the inking of voters’ fingers is not a solution,” Harutiunian told reporters. He claimed that such a measure would only create “additional distrust” in the electoral process.

Harutiunian also rejected opposition parties’ and civil society representatives’ demands that next year’s parliamentary elections be held only on a strictly party-list basis. The proposed Electoral Code envisages a more complex electoral system, even if it would abolish nationwide single-mandate constituencies.

Echoing statements by senior representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Harutiunian said the government is ready to install cameras that would videotape voting and counting of ballots in all of the country’s 2,000 or so polling stations.

The influential official spoke shortly before he, Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian and senior pro-government parliamentarians began the talks with parliamentary leaders of four opposition parties and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

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