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Opposition Blasts Likely Choice Of Armenia’s Top Election Official


Armenia - The Central Election Commission meets in Yerevan, 3Apr2017.

A leader of the main opposition Hayastan alliance on Wednesday condemned the ruling Civil Contract party’s reported plans to install a longtime associate of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as chairman of Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC).

Tigran Mukuchian, the current CEC chairman who has been in office since 2011, will complete his tenure in October. His successor should be elected soon by the Armenian parliament controlled by Civil Contract.

Armenian newspapers reported earlier this month that Pashinian’s party will nominate one of its senior lawmakers, Vahagn Hovakimian, for the post. Hovakimian did not deny the reports when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last week.

The National Assembly is also due to appoint the six other members of the body administering general and local elections and releasing their results. Its factions had until July 25 to make initial nominations for the CEC positions.

Civil Contract has still not named its candidates. The leader and the secretary of its parliamentary group did not answer phone calls from RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Wednesday and earlier this week.

Maria Karapetian, another parliament deputy from the ruling party, said it is still discussing possible candidacies. She too did not deny that Hovakimian could become the CEC’s next chairman.

Armenia - Opposition leader Artsvik Minasian, July 27, 2022.
Armenia - Opposition leader Artsvik Minasian, July 27, 2022.

Artsvik Minasian, a senior lawmaker representing Hayastan, decried the possible choice of Hovakimian, saying Pashinian is seeking full and direct control over electoral process in the country.

“For them [the current authorities] there is no more important thing that appointing members of their gang to key positions,” charged the opposition leader.

Minasian argued that Armenia’s former leaders did not install their confidantes or overtly partisan figures as CEC chairpersons. “These people are trampling underfoot everything and openly violating all principles,” he said, referring to Pashinian and his political team.

The Armenian constitution stipulates that the chairperson and members of the CEC cannot be affiliated with any political party or engage in political activities otherwise during their tenure.

Mukuchian, the outgoing CEC chairman, had been installed by former President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. Pashinian for years accused the former Armenian authorities of rigging elections. But he apparently did not try to replace Mukuchian after coming to power in 2018.

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