A coalition of Armenian civil society groups said on Wednesday that it plans to deploy about 3,500 monitors, among them prominent Diaspora Armenians, in polling stations across the country during the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“As of now, we have already registered 2,800 monitors, and I think that this number will rise to 3,500,” Armen Grigorian, one of the leaders of the Citizen Observer initiative, told reporters.
Grigorian said they will watch voting in around 1,750 of Armenia’s 2,000 polling stations where an estimated 95 percent of all eligible voters will be able to cast ballots.
According to Citizen Observer, the monitoring mission will include nearly 250 ethnic Armenian foreign nationals, among them U.S. rock musician Serj Tankian, Canadian actress Arsinee Khanjian and her husband and filmmaker Atom Egoyan.
Tankian, Khanjian, Egoyan and several other Diaspora Armenian artists launched last year a joint campaign called “Justice Within Armenia” with an online petition that was signed by thousands of people. It demanded that Armenia’s government end widespread corruption, respect laws and hold democratic elections.
Vartan Marashlian, the director of the non-governmental RepatArmenia Foundation helping Diaspora Armenians relocate to Armenia, is also involved in the Citizen Observer mission.
“This is a very important format through which we can connect the Diaspora to Armenia. This must become a part of our culture,” Marashlian told a joint news conference with Grigorian and Vahe Keushguerian, a Lebanese-born businessman based in Yerevan.
Keushguerian emphasized the non-partisan character of what will be the largest monitoring mission for the April 2 elections. “The most important thing for us is that every vote is counted correctly,” he said. “The question of who will get elected is secondary.”
The elections will pit the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) against four other parties and as many alliances. They will also be monitored by around 300 observers to be deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE officially launched its monitoring mission on Tuesday.