ELECTIONS OF OCTOBER 2 CANNOT BE CONSIDERED FREE AND FAIR: OBSERVERS
03.10.2016
12:00
Elections of October 2, held in 373 communities of 6 regions of Armenia, were full of violations: representatives of companis and initiatives conducting observation missions expressed such assessment during the press conference at Media Center.

Tigran Yegoryan, Representative of “Citizen-Observer” Initiative, Arthur Sakunts, Head of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office, Armen Grigoryan, Representative of “Citizen-Observer” Initiative, participated in the press conference.

On October 2, elections of the Council of Elders were held in the second and third cities of the country by size – Gyumri and Vanadzor.

According to the official data, “Balasanyan Alliance” received 34.64% of the votes, “Prosperous Armenia” 20.70%, Armenian Veratsnund 10.62%, Gala Party 10.49%. The other parties failed to pass the 6% threshold: Alliance 1.78%, Civil Contract 1.49%, Armenian Revolutionary Federation 5.36%, Armenian National Congress 1.09%,  Unity Party 5.77 %, Businessman 1.32 %, Spirit of Gyumri Resident 5.74 %. 33 mandates of Gyumri Council of Elders are allocated as follows: Balasanyan Alliance - 15, “Prosperous Armenia” - 9, Armenian Veratsnund - 5, Gala - 4.

Among the parties in the Council of Elders in Vanadzor, Armenian Republican Party will have 13 members, Bright Armenia Party – 10, Rule of Law Party – 5, “Prosperous Armenia” – 3 and Armenian Revolutionary Federation – 2.

Armen Grigoryan said that “Citizen-Observer” Initiative had 230 observers in 18 communities.

“We covered all the polling stations in 18 communities. Again there were violations that are systemic problems. The same problem occurred as on September 18 local elections and the referendum on constitutional amendments of last year problem when the voter came to a polling station and saw that in front of his name it is already signed, that is, it is voted. 18 such violations were recorded, and on September 18 22 such violations were recorded. The closed lists of voters continue to be a serious systemic problem, and this is the most common toolforfrauds,” Grigoryan said.

He said that 190 violations were recorded on October 2 elections. Grigoryan said that most of the violations were recorded during the electoral process before 20:00 p.m.

Tigran Yegoryan said that all known types of violations were recordedduring  October 2 local elections: voting instead of others,inaccuracies of voting lists, etc.

“The names of dead people appeared in the lists, there were widespread violations of the rights of observers by commission members and presidents, many records are made about guidance, control over voting, taking the ballot out of the polling station,'' Yegoryan said.

He added that an investigation should be conducted promptly to clarify the facts and then assess if the violations had an impact on the election results in any community.

“This implies a serious unbiased work. The Central Election Commission once again shows that it is unable to provide the right to participate in free and fair elections,” Yegoryan said.

Arthur Sakunts does not also consider these elections free. He emphasized that the voter was not able to express his will, his opinion freely.

“One of the overwhelming factors were the climate and the control in the areas near the polling stations. Obviously the practice of referral and detention continues. Area curators, district authorities were operating with impunity; this is the determinant of the situation in the polling station. When the Chaiperson is informed that people are crowded at the entrance of the polling station, he said that he did not have time to handle inside the station, let alone outside. Out of the polling station, each voter is under great pressure in case of the apparent inaction of the police,” Sakunts said.  

He added that the observers' work was hampered inside the polling stations. According to Sakunts, the precinct election commissions, except for one or two committees, did not display persistence and will to comply the electoral process with the Electoral Code.

“The CEC made a clarification that after 20:00 an observer or journalist could enter the polling station. But the polling station commission did not implement CEC decision, our observer came into the station an hour late. The Election Code would not work at all, if irregularities perpetrators remain unpunished. In case of the most perfect Election Code, if the district authorities acted and were unpunished, then nothing will work, I am sure, given the example of Vanadzor and Gyumri,” Sakunts added.  

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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