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Ter-Petrosian Bloc To Challenge Election Results In Court


Armenia - The opposition Congress-HZhK alliance led by Levon Ter-Petrosian holds an election campaign rally in Yerevan, 29Mar2017.

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s opposition alliance said on Friday that it will ask Armenia’s Constitutional Court to annul the official results of the April 2 parliamentary elections because of what it called widespread vote buying and other “systematic” irregularities.

The Congress-HZhK bloc alleged “mass distribution of vote bribes,” intimidation of voters by government loyalists, violations of the secrecy of the ballot as well as “numerous registered cases of multiple voting.” “The large-scale and systematic violations of the electoral process precluded a free expression of the people’s will,” it claimed in a statement.

The Congress-HZhK said ahead of the elections that multiple voting will be practically impossible because of opposition-backed amendments to the Electoral Code enacted by the authorities last fall. In particular, those changes led to the installation of electronic voter authentication devices in all polling stations.

The authorities also agreed to publicize the signed lists of voters that cast ballots on April 2. This allowed opposition parties to verify whether somebody else voted in place of those Armenians who were absent from the country or simply boycotted the polls.

The Congress-HZhK statement did not say whether the bloc has examined those lists and found evidence of such fraud. One of its leading members, Levon Zurabian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the bloc will present evidence of its allegations during Constitutional Court hearings.

European election observers did not report significant instances of multiple voting in their preliminary report released on Monday. They cited instead “credible information about vote-buying, and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies.”

Virtually all Armenian opposition parties and blocs have said that vote buying was decisive in the ruling HHK’s landslide election victory. Ter-Petrosian similarly said on Monday that the election outcome was not unexpected “in a country where … the people are condemned to utter misery.”

“Vote bribes were only a bonus [for the authorities] because in reality the people were forced to vote [for the HHK,]” claimed Zurabian. “Pressure on voters was exerted through administrative resources and criminal elements. Vote bribes were only an additional component of that whole system.”

The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, admitted on Wednesday that vote bribes were handed out but insisted that they did not significantly affect the vote results. Sharmazanov also argued that the United States and the European Union gave largely positive assessments of the conduct of the ballot.

The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said through a spokesperson on Tuesday that the official results reflect “the overall will of the Armenian people.” She also said the EU will work closely with Armenia’s “democratically elected new parliament and government.”

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Congress-HZhK won 1.65 percent of the vote. Ter-Petrosian’s bloc will therefore have no seats in the new Armenian parliament.

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