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States Bodies Warned Against Election Meddling


Armenia -- A voter is about to cast a ballot in municipal elections in Yerevan, 23Sep2018

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian warned government ministries and other state bodies on Thursday against attempting to influence the outcome of Armenia’s snap parliamentary elections expected in December.

Pashinian paved the way for the elections when he tendered his and his government resignation on Tuesday. He and his cabinet members will continue to perform their duties in the interim.

Pashinian said that “the state governance system must not be involved in pre-election processes in any way” when he chaired a cabinet meeting in Yerevan. The government should instead work in a “more intensive and effective” manner in the run-up to the vote, he said.

“This is a very good period for working in tranquil conditions,” he told ministers and other senior officials attending the meeting.

Armenia’s previous governments heavily relied on their administrative levers to help the ruling parties and their presidential candidates win elections. That involved strong pressure exerted on many public and even private sector employees.

There were practically no reports of such abuses of administrative resources during the September 23 municipal election in Yerevan which Pashinian’s My Step alliance won by a landslide. Its official results were accepted by virtually all other parties and blocs, another sharp contrast with past Armenian elections.

Pashinian claimed that his government has already “rooted out” the country’s culture of electoral fraud when he met with President Armen Sarkissian late on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming polls.

“For us, democracy is not a slogan or method,” said the premier. “Democracy is our political creed. Democracy is what we have fought for.”

The Armenian police promised, meanwhile, that they would act strongly against any attempts to bribe voters or rig vote results.

“The police are prepared for the excellent conduct of the pre-term parliamentary elections,” the police chief, Valeri Osipian, told reporters after Thursday’s cabinet meeting. “For this purpose, we will use new approaches, especially in the regions. I won’t specify them now.”

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