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Armenian Constitutional Court Ends Hearings On Election Appeals


Armenia’s Constitutional Court hears the appeals of four opposition groups disputing the outcome of the June 20 snap parliamentary elections

Judges of Armenia’s Constitutional Court have retired to the deliberations room for rulings on appeals by several opposition groups challenging the results of the June 20 snap parliamentary elections that gave victory to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s party.

The court received separate appeals from the opposition alliances led by former Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian and two smaller groups that failed to win any seats in the Armenian parliament earlier this month.

They claimed violations and irregularities during the elections that they believe seriously affected the outcome of the vote in which the Pashinian-led Civil Contract party won about 54 percent of the vote.

The Hayastan (Armenia) alliance of Kocharian and the Pativ Unem (I Have Honor) alliance associated with Sarkisian came in second and third, with 21 and 5 percent of the vote. Despite failing to overcome the 7-percent threshold set for alliances, Pativ Unem, as the third finisher, was allowed to enter parliament under Armenia’s current legislation.

Pashinian and his political allies maintain that the vote was free and fair. They point to its largely positive assessment by European election observers.

The opposition forces appealed to the Constitutional Court after the Central Election Commission (CEC) refused to annul the vote results, saying that they have not substantiated their allegations of widespread fraud.

During several days of public hearings that began on July 9 the Constitutional Court heard arguments of the opposition groups, the CEC, which is involved in the case as the main respondent, and the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police and the Television and Radio Commission involved as co-respondents in the case.

Civil Contract is also involved in the case as a third party upon its own request.

During the hearings the opposition, in particular, referred to instances of irregularities in signed voter lists as well as alleged violations in the military vote, which were discarded by the respondent.

Central Electoral Commission Chairman Tigran Mukuchian disagreed that issues raised by the opposition groups could impact the overall outcome of the elections.

A lawyer for Hayastan also listed Pashinian’s “hate speech” and “calls for violence” among violations which the alliance claims seriously affected the election outcome. The bloc’s representatives argued, in particular, that Pashinian brandished a hammer during campaign rallies held across the country.

A representative of the Prosecutor’s Office, however, disagreed that Pashinian’s campaign rhetoric amounted to intimidation of his political opponents, saying that the prime minister used the hammer only as a metaphor for a “dictatorship of the law” promised by him on the campaign trail.

After the court heard the final speeches of the parties on Wednesday, its chairman Arman Dilanian announced the end of the hearings.

“I announce the end of the hearings. The court retires to the deliberations room to make a decision in the case. I declare the sitting closed. Thank you, goodbye,” he said.

Dilanian said that the date and time of the publication of the court decision will be announced in advance.

Under law, the Constitutional Court is to issue its ruling on an election appeal within 15 days after it was lodged and accepted. The four opposition groups submitted their appeals on July 2.

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