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Preparations Start For Armenian Elections


Armenia - The Central Election Commission meets in Yerevan, May 11, 2021.

Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) began on Tuesday preparations for early parliamentary elections one day after they were officially scheduled for June 20.

President Armen Sarkissian set the date in a decree signed just hours after the Armenian parliament voted to dissolve itself in line with an agreement reached by its opposition minority and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Pashinian and his political team agreed to hold the snap elections in a bid to end a serious political crisis triggered by Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The outgoing parliament controlled by them will formally continue to perform its duties until the formation of a new National Assembly.

The CEC approved a timetable of measures needed to prepare for and hold the polls. In particular, it was decided that campaigning for them will officially start on June 7 and last for only 12 days.

Pashinian’s Civil Contract party and some opposition parties have already put up campaign billboards in Yerevan, sparking allegations of foul play. The CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, insisted that this does not constitute a violation of the Armenian Electoral Code or other laws.

Mukuchian also told reporters that as was the case during the last two parliamentary elections held in 2018 and 2017 video cameras will be installed in most of the 2,000 or so polling stations across Armenia. They will film voting and ballot counting for the purpose of reducing the risk of vote irregularities.

Pashinian reiterated on Monday that his administration will do its best to ensure that the upcoming vote is free and fair.

The deadline for the submission of documents by political parties or blocs seeking to enter the parliamentary race was set for May 26. The CEC is due to complete the formation of electoral districts by that day.

Civil Contract and the two opposition parties represented in the current legislature have made clear that they will participate in the elections on their own.

Other opposition forces and leaders have set up at least two electoral alliances. One of them is led by former President Robert Kocharian while another comprises former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia.

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