An opposition leader accused the Armenian authorities on Friday of using their administrative resources to try to win the upcoming referendum on their drive to replace most members of the country’s Constitutional Court.
“We are already receiving reports from various provinces that their governors are summoning village mayors and forcing them to ensure that a ‘Yes’ vote wins in their villages,” claimed Gevorg Gorgisian, a leading member of the opposition Bright Armenia Party (LHK).
Gorgisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the local community chiefs are told to “do everything” for that purpose. He refused, however, to name the “three or four provinces” whose governors are allegedly engaged in such foul play.
A senior representative of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc dismissed the allegations, while challenging Gorgisian to substantiate them. “Such a thing is not possible,” said Vahagn Hovakimian.
“Let them show which governor or village mayor [is using administrative resources,]” added Hovakimian.
Armenia’s provincial and local community administrations are overseen by Minister for Local Government Suren Papikian. He is also the manager of My Step’s campaign for a “Yes” vote in the referendum scheduled for April 5.
Papikian insisted on Wednesday that the ruling political team will not use its government levers to secure around 650,000 votes needed for the adoption of constitutional amendments drafted by it.
“Let nobody, be it a city or village mayor, do the authorities such a disservice,” he told a news conference. “We don’t need that.”
“I hope that after making that appeal Mr. Papikian is not issuing other, confidential instructions to governors,” Gorgisian said in this regard.
Armenia’s former authorities routinely pressured public sector employees and exploited their administrative resources otherwise to win elections and referendums marred by fraud allegations.