Three European bodies criticize Armenia's election over irregularities


A man casts his ballot at a polling station in Yerevan, on April 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Three leading European bodies have censured Armenia’s weekend election, saying it was rigged with irregularities.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament said in a joint statement on Monday that the parliamentary election held a day earlier in Armenia had been marked by organizational problems.  

Results show that the ruling Republican Party won Armenia’s election with 49.12 percent, while the main opposition coalition, led by wealthy pro-Western politician Gagik Tsarukyan, gained 27.4 percent of the vote.

Armenia’s central electoral commission said the turnout was 60.9 percent in the country of 2.9 million.

The statement by European observers said party representatives had unduly interfered in Armenia’s election process, adding that civil servants as well as private sector employees had been pressured during the votes. It cited information showing that “vote-buying” had occurred during the process.  

The European bodies said, however, that the election had been well-administered and fundamental freedoms had been generally respected.

It also hailed some measures taken ahead of the vote by the government of President Serzh Sarkisian but added that more needed to be done

Yerevan has praised reforms carried out in the electoral process, with Sarkisian saying that his administration “made enormous efforts so that (the) milestone vote is flawless.”

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian casts his ballot at a polling station in Yerevan, on April 2, 2017, during the parliamentary election. (Photo by AFP)

Liliane Maury Pasquier, head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said, however, that despite the changes, the election was still suffering from some “long-standing doubts about the reliability and integrity of electoral processes.”

Armenia will be transforming from a strong presidency into a parliamentary form of government after Sarkisian’s second and final term ends in 2018.

The transition is based on constitutional changes drawn up by Sarkisian and ratified in 2015. The opposition has criticized the amendments, saying they are meant to perpetuate the rule of the Republican Party, which has been in power in Armenia for the past two decades.


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