Citing a lack of time and funds, Armenia’s leading vote-monitoring organization said on Tuesday that it is unlikely to deploy many observers during next month’s mayoral elections in Yerevan.
The Citizen Observer initiative, a coalition of Armenian civil society groups, monitored the April 2 parliamentary elections through more than 3,000 activists and volunteers deployed in polling stations across the country. It gave a negative assessment of the vote, alleging numerous instances of vote buying, voter intimidation and other violations.
The municipal elections in Yerevan are scheduled for May 14. The Armenian capital has almost 500 electoral precincts.
“We need around 950 observers in order to be properly present in all polling stations,” said Armen Grigorian, a Citizen Observer leader. “At the moment, the Citizen Observer does not have sufficient resources for organizing such a large-scale effort.”
“The likelihood of us obtaining the resources and organizing a large-scale monitoring mission within such a short period of time is small,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Grigorian argued that the NGO coalition was busy with the legislative polls and did not have enough time to apply to Western donors for fresh funding. “The European Union, for example, takes about one year to approve its funding programs,” he said.
The activist also said that the presence of Citizen Observer monitors has substantially reduced the number of vote irregularities. “We may therefore call on a certain number of observers to go to polling stations [on May 14] … But that will not be done on a large scale,” he added.