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Ruling Party Sees New Election Deal With Armenian Opposition


Armenia - Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party, speaks at a news briefing in Yerevan, 5Feb2016.

Armenia - Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party, speaks at a news briefing in Yerevan, 5Feb2016.

Armenia’s government has all but reached a new agreement with the opposition on legislation that will strongly affect the conduct and outcome of next year’s parliamentary elections, the ruling Republican Party (HHK) claimed on Thursday.

The HHK and three major opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament already worked out in June a set of amendments to the new Electoral Code designed to prevent serious fraud in the April 2017 polls.

The landmark deal collapsed early this week, however. The government said that it does not have sufficient time to put in place a biometric registry of voters that would supposedly preclude multiple voting by government loyalists.

HHK representatives said after the fiasco that President Serzh Sarkisian and his political allies will now try to cut an alternative election deal with the parliamentary opposition.

Vahram Baghdasarian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader, said the two sides have already successfully concluded their negotiations on the issue. “Everyone will sign and publicize [an agreement] by Monday,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Negotiations are over.”

Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), categorically denied Baghdasarian’s claim. “I don’t know where he got that information from,” he said. “I don’t have such information.”

The HAK on Wednesday listed alternative measures against multiple voting and other fraud which it believes must be enshrined in the Electoral Code. The most important of them is the post-election publication of the names of those voters who will have cast ballots.

The HHK and the government have opposed such a measure until now. Baghdasarian indicated this week that they are now ready to reconsider their position in order to address opposition concerns about the freedom and fairness of the 2017 elections.

The vote will be held one year before Sarkisian serves out his final presidential term and Armenia completes its transition to a parliamentary system of government. It will thus determine who will govern the country after 2018.

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