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Pashinian Touts Armenia’s ‘Democratic’ Elections


ARMENIA -- Armenian acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian delivers a speech during a rally in central Yerevan, June 21, 2021

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian insisted on Thursday that the weekend general elections in Armenia won by his party were free and fair.

“The conclusions of international and local observers and the international community are unequivocal: the elections were held in conformity with democratic standards. In effect, we set a new standard,” Pashinian said, opening a weekly meeting of his cabinet in Yerevan.

“When pre-term parliamentary elections were held in 2018 and the international community gave those elections unprecedentedly high marks … it was said at the time that the election outcome was obvious for everyone in advance and that the incumbent government did not need, so to speak, to falsify the election results. The outcome of the 2021 parliamentary elections was not predictable and everyone knew that they are probably the most unpredictable elections in the Third Republic’s history,” he said.

In their preliminary report released on Monday, European observers gave a largely positive assessment of the Armenian authorities’ handling of the snap elections held on Sunday. They said the vote was “competitive and generally very well-managed.”

Both the United States and the European Union cited the findings of the observer mission mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in their official reactions to the conduct of the snap polls.

The U.S. State Department urged the Armenian opposition to accept the official election results that gave a landslide victory to Pashinian’s Civil Contract party.

The two leading opposition groups that won seats in Armenia’s new parliament have alleged widespread irregularities, however. They are expected to ask the Constitutional Court overturn the official results.

Former President Robert Kocharian’s Hayastan bloc, the official runner-up in the polls, accused the European observers on Monday of turning a blind eye to violations which it said benefited the ruling party.

Armenian law-enforcement authorities have charged more than a dozen opposition members and supporters with trying to bribe or bully voters. No government officials and loyalists are known to have been prosecuted for electoral offenses so far.

Pashinian cited on Thursday the election-related criminal cases. “I am convinced that they will be properly investigated,” he said.

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