Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission on Sunday approved the final results of the May 14 municipal elections in Yerevan, rejecting the appeal filed by an opposition party that particularly alleged large-scale vote buying and pressure on people to vote in favor of the ruling party.
The governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) officially got over 71 percent of the vote, with the opposition Yelk (Way Out) alliance getting 21 percent and the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party receiving some 8 percent of the vote.
All three forces participating in the election made it to the 65-member Council of Elders of Yerevan where they will have 46, 14 and 5 representatives, respectively.
Following the ballot in which Yelk also alleged vote buying in favor of the HHK, only Yerkir Tsirani formally applied to the CEC, demanding that it annul the election results.
The party led by outspoken government critic Zaruhi Postanjian claimed large-scale fraud was committed during the election 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 incumbent mayor and top HHK candidate Taron 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 May 15 Postanjian claimed violence was used against her and her daughter, who suffered a concussion. She also deplored the lack of immediate response from appropriate law-enforcement bodies to the incident. Two criminal cases were later launched by the Special Investigation Service in connection with the incident.
In its application 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.
During today’s meeting of the CEC Postanjian accused the body of failing to properly notify the party about the date and time of the hearing.
Tigran Mukuchian, the head of the CEC, insisted, however, that Postanjian and Yerkir Tsirani were notified by phone in due time. Mukuchian said that in its application the party did not attach any proof of its claims that could become a basis for annulling the results of the Yerevan elections. Eventually, the CEC rejected Yerkir Tsirani’s appeal and approved the final results of the elections.
Postanjian went on to allege that Mukuchian was acting under pressure as she said one of her party’s representatives was notified about the CEC meeting late on Saturday and could not make it to Yerevan from Gyumri early in the morning.
“We will turn to the court,” Postanjian said, stressing that Yerkir Tsirani will continue to struggle “to create a movement of national resistance that will topple the current regime.”