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Postanjian-Led Party Challenges Yerevan Election Results


Armenia - Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition mayoral candidate, casting her ballot in the May 14 elections in Yerevan

The Yerkir Tsirani party led by opposition parliamentarian Zaruhi Postanjian has asked the Central Election Commission (CEC) to annul the results of the Sunday municipal elections in Yerevan, claiming large-scale fraud and violations, including vote buying, by the ruling party.

Yerkir Tsirani, which was founded only weeks before the elections, managed to poll nearly 8 percent of the vote, entitling it to forming a minority five-member faction in the 65-seat Council of Elders of the Armenian capital.

Another opposition force – the Yelk alliance – gained 21 percent of the vote in the elections won by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its incumbent mayor Taron Markarian by a landslide (over 71 percent).

In its application to the CEC, Yerkir Tsirani claimed large-scale fraud implemented by the HHK with the assistance of police officers that included vote buying, guidance of voters, as well as violence against Postanjian and her proxy.

Postanjian, who ran for mayor in the elections, personally went to one of HHK campaign offices located in Markarian’s home district of Avan on the day of the voting to expose what she claimed was a vote buying scheme. Along with her daughter, Lilit Drampian, who also acted as her proxy she was forced out of the HHK premises by police officers called in by ruling party activists.

In a statement released on Monday Postanjian claimed violence was used against her and her daughter, who suffered a concussion. She also deplored the lack of response from appropriate law-enforcement bodies to the incident.

Listing these and other violations observed during the elections, the opposition party also alleged that election-related documents kept at the safes at electoral precincts had been tampered with in favor of the HHK.

“We demand that, based on Article 142 of the Electoral Code, the results of the elections be annulled, as the above-mentioned violations have had an impact on the outcome of the elections and cannot be redressed,” the opposition party said.

The concerns stated by Yerkir Tsirani, Yelk and some other Armenian political and civic groups were echoed on Monday by local observers, who spoke about a wide range of violations, including pressure on voters, use of administrative resource, open ballot, guidance of voters, the presence of ‘fake’ observers acting as ruling party proxies at polling stations, obstructions to the work of observers and even violence and threats against them, during a press conference in Yerevan.

HHK representatives have brushed aside the accusations, insisting that “the few violations” registered during the elections could not have any significant impact on the outcome of the vote that otherwise represented “a serious step forward” in comparison with the previous municipal polls.

CEC Chairman Tigran Mukuchian also suggested that separate incidents and violations reported during the vote could not overshadow the electoral process as a whole and that the process took place in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Code.

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