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U.S. Urges Acceptance Of Armenian Vote Results


U.S. -- U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, February 8, 2021

The United States has called on the Armenian opposition to accept official results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections that gave victory to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his party.

“The United States congratulates the people of Armenia on their June 20 parliamentary elections,” a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Ned Price, said in a statement released late on Monday.

Price noted and welcomed a largely positive assessment of the Armenian authorities’ handling of the snap election given by European observers earlier in the day.

“We urge Armenians of all political affiliations to respect the results of these elections once certified, employ the legal election grievance process to address issues of concern, and avoid political retaliation as Armenia continues to pursue a sovereign, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future,” he said.

Price also praised the Pashinian government’s track record and said Washington looks forward to working with it to “grow our bilateral relationship and cooperation.”

“We commend Armenia for the progress it has made with respect to reforms and anti-corruption efforts and encourage Armenia to continue along this path, in line with the aspirations of the Armenian people, as expressed in the spring of 2018,” he said.

In its official reaction to the polls, the European Union also cited the preliminary findings of the more than 330 election observers that were mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“The European Union calls on all political forces to now work together in order to effectively tackle the challenges Armenia is confronted with, in the interest of the Armenian citizens,” an EU foreign policy spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The OSCE-led mission described the elections as “competitive and generally very well-managed” and said they were “assessed positively overall” by its monitors. Pashinian and his political team have portrayed this verdict as further proof of their freedom and fairness.

The two leading opposition groups that challenged Pashinian’s Civil Contract party in the tense parliamentary race have rejected the official vote results as fraudulent.

Armenia - Voters at a polling station in Yerevan, June 20, 2021.
Armenia - Voters at a polling station in Yerevan, June 20, 2021.

Former President Robert Kocharian’s Hayastan bloc, the official runner-up in the polls, accused the European observers of turning a blind eye to many vote irregularities that benefited the ruling party.

In a statement issued late on Monday, the bloc charged that the observer mission ignored its complaints about Pashinian’s pre-election “hate speech” and “compelling evidence” of abuse of administrative resources and harassment of Hayastan activists by the Armenian authorities.

Kocharian said on Tuesday that police rounded up 60 Hayastan proxies and campaign activists and held them in custody for several hours during Sunday’s voting. He claimed that this was done to facilitate fraud at polling stations.

Pativ Unem, the other opposition bloc that won seats in Armenia’s new parliament, also reported police raids on its campaign offices and mass detentions of its activists on Saturday and Sunday.

Armenian law-enforcement bodies have opened criminal cases against several dozen members of these and other opposition groups accused of trying to buy votes. It is not yet clear if they will press charges against any government officials who opposition representatives say have forced their subordinates to vote for Pashinian’s party or fired public sector employees openly supporting the opposition.

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