YEREVAN—Armenia’s Constitutional Court on Thursday upheld the results of the February 18 presidential elections in Armenia, rejecting claims filed by two opposition candidates who alleged wide-spread fraud.
“The decision is to uphold the Central Election Committee’s decision from February 25 on the results of the presidential elections from February 18,” said Constitutional Court President Gagik Harutunian. The decision cannot be appealed.
The CEC announced the official results late last month giving President Sarkisian 58.6 percent of the votes and registering 37 percent for opposition candidate Raffi Hovannisian.
Claims of wide-spread elections fraud and voter-rigging resulted into a popular movement led by Hovannisian, who is currently staging a hunger strike at Yerevan’s Liberty Square, the site of protests of thousands of Armenians who are propelling the movement.
“We will continue our political fight within the framework of law and constitution until we win,” said Hovsep Khurshudyan, spokesman for Hovannisian’s Heritage Party.
A member of Armenia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday expressed concern over irregularities reported during last month’s presidential election, saying that they have fuelled public distrust in its official results.
Kim Balayan spoke of many Armenians’ “dissatisfaction” with the official vote results as he questioned a police representative during a court hearing on opposition appeals to annul the February 18 vote. He said he wants to have a “clear conscience” when deciding whether to back the appeals lodged by Hovannisian and Andreas Ghukasian, an election outsider.
“Whether or not those violations affected the overall [election result] is a separate matter,” said Balayan. “But it’s obvious that there were violations.” He wondered if law-enforcement authorities need “additional levers” to detect fraud.
Representatives of the police and prosecutors testifying at the hearing said the police investigated more than 250 reports of fraud but in the vast majority of those cases presumed eyewitnesses were unwilling to come forward when contacted by law-enforcement officers. Zaruhi Postanjian, a representative of Hovannisian, attributed this to an “atmosphere of fear.”
Last week, Armenian presidential election observer of OSCE and former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ireland Dermot Ahern sent a letter to Armenian Bar Association Chairman Garo Ghazarian detailing fraud he witnessed during the February 18 election, particularly in Precinct 26/1, where he claims a landslide for Raffi Hovannisian was converted into a victory for the incumbent.