YEREVAN (Combined Sources) – Heritage Party Presidential Candidate Raffi Hovannisian, at a press conference and rally held at Liberty Square Tuesday, called Monday’s presidential elections a “victory for the people” and urged President Serzh Sarkisian to meet with him by 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the peaceful transition of power.
“I am already the elected president of the Republic of Armenia,” he told supporters at the Liberty Square rally. “I want to come here tomorrow at 5 p.m. and report to you that I met with Mr. Sakisian and that he had the strength, manliness … to say that the Armenian people won and congratulate them.”
Hovannisian and campaign representatives declined to state what course of action they would take should Sarkisian refuse the meeting.
Armenia’s Central Election Commission reported that Sarkisian secured 58.6 percent of the vote to win the election with Hovannisian coming in second with 36.8 percent. Early results put former prime minister Hrant Bagratian in third place with 2.2 percent of the votes. The remaining four candidates Paruir Hayrikian, Andrias Ghukasyan, Vardan Sedrakyan and Armen Melikyan each received less than two percent of the votes, according to the preliminary reports. According to the CEC, 60 percent of eligible voters took part in Monday’s election.
Hovannisian campaign spokesperson Hovsep Khurshudyan disputed the results, telling reporters that the results from 21 of 42 polling stations sampled had different results than those reported by the CEC. “We had 27,902 votes at the polling stations, with 19,057 votes or 68% cast for Raffi Hovannisian, and 32% for Serzh Sargsyan. We can get the results with difficulties. All the election commission chairmen were ordered not to provide information from the polling stations where Raffi Hovannisian is winning,” Khurshudyan stated.
A preliminary findings report by election observers representing the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament (EP) noted marked improvements in electoral practices, but documented a number of shortcomings. “Overall, the election was administered in a professional manner and real efforts were made by the authorities to improve the quality of the voter lists. The media covered all candidates in a rather balanced manner, but that coverage would have benefitted from more critical analysis and debates between candidates,” said Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term election observation mission. “Unfortunately, the blurring of the distinction between the State and the ruling party continues to be an issue. This was demonstrated in the misuse of administrative resources, pressure on voters, and a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration.”