Armenia’s main opposition group on Tuesday challenged the country’s law enforcement over the accuracy of current voter lists after the police chief publicly vowed a more responsible verification process.
Addressing a group of senior police officers last Friday, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Gasparian spoke of the need to ensure a ‘proper’ and ‘neutral’ police conduct before and after the parliamentary elections scheduled in Armenia for May 6.
He said the demand for “ideal” law enforcement during the election period had been set by President Serzh Sarkisian and further stressed the importance of ensuring the accuracy of voter registers, which is part of the Police’s responsibility in Armenia.
“I want us to treat the matter of voter list accuracy as our personal responsibility,” the chief of the Armenian police emphasized.
The Police’s press service confirmed on Tuesday that a special body has been set up within the agency to enforce law and order during the May 6 vote. It said the structure will be headed by one of Gasparian’s deputies and will involve a number of senior police officials.
Earlier, Gasparian called on the future campaign headquarters of all political parties and blocs that will participate in the upcoming elections to cooperate with the police.
Responding to this call, senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) Levon Zurabian said the opportunity was worth using, but at the same time he described as ‘hypocritical’ the statement by the chief of police about ensuring fair and transparent elections.
“Today, the police have become the main conduit for electoral fraud. From polling stations fraud has been shifted to the police’s passport departments,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
The oppositionist suggested that as part of this cooperation the police allow HAK representatives to inspect the recent work conducted by passport departments. He also challenged the police to expose the vote buying networks that the opposition claims have been set up by many condominiums ahead of the May elections as well as take measures against the busing of people to polling stations on the Election Day proper.
Stepan Safaryan, a senior member of the opposition Heritage party, also challenged the police to act upon their promise and expose “the numerous unlawful actions” that he said are being committed by the pro-government parties even now. “To do so would not require much effort from the police,” he added.
Meanwhile, Galust Sahakian, a deputy head of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, hailed the police initiative, saying that it will prove useful for the process. “It will be very good if the headquarters of political parties could report cases in a timely manner so as to preclude any discontent,” he said.