NGO’s Joint Statement on Municipal Ballot
On May 6, at 2 p.m., Media Center hosted representatives of non-governmental and media organizations, which were on joint observer mission at the 464 polling stations of the 13 election districts, monitoring the voting process. They made a joint statement presenting a preliminary summary of the May 5 municipal ballot.

Among the guests of the Media Center were Artak Kirakosyan (Open Society Institute, NGO), Armenian Helsinki Association leader Avetik Ishkhanyan, Naira Arakelyan (Armavir Development Center), Alexander Shagafyan (Armenian Center for Democratic Education-CIVITAS, NGO) iDitord website coordinator Samvel Martirosyan, Eduard Ghudrunts (Harmony, NGO), Lusine Simonyan (Capacity and Development for Civil Society, NGO), Satik Badeyan (Regional Development and Research Center, NGO), Ruben Sargsyan (APR Group), Sona Ayvazyan (Transparency International, NGO).

Avetik Ishkhanyan made a statement on behalf of all the mission representatives present.

“We, the representatives of all the organizations present here today, have discussed our impressions of yesterday's vote and have arrived at a general conclusion. I will now introduce the main shortcomings and violations, after which each organization will talk about the specifics they each observed in their precincts. 

Among general violations were ubiquitous crowding around all the polls, people were brought in constantly, their vote was manipulated, etc. The police were mostly inert. People were bused to polling stations.

In many cases elections commissions and proxies used psychological pressure and created obstacles to the work of observers and reporters; too many unrelated people were present at the polls.  Often those unidentified people turned out to be party members having both proxy and observer badges they used alternately.  

Another largely applied practice was using observer missions as a tool to manipulate the electorate. I will now name the organizations of pseudo observer missions, which in fact had a great part in manipulating voters and acted as proxies.

Among them were Erebuni Community Development Center, Economic and Social Rights Center, “Kyanq” (“Life”) Human Rights International Association, which worked in favor of the Republican Party.  Another observer mission – Pan-Armenian Youth Association, NGO – acted in favor of Prosperous Armenia Party.

I regard this as very unpleasant phenomena discrediting civil society. And I am asking the Central Election Commission how they could have registered these organizations, in violation of the law, when they could have easily identified what kind of organization the above-listed ones were.  

These elections were absolutely far from meeting the standards of democracy. This is our shared opinion, our joint conclusion. I would like to make another general conclusion. The outcome happens around two months after the presidential elections.  My personal judgment is that the authorities were rather calm and confident during the presidential race, and the outcome took them by surprise. I believe since then they have taken serious measures and used all the resources at hand, and as a result Taron Margaryan beat Serzh Sargsyan,” said Ishkhanyan.  

Summing up the election outcome Ishkhanyan pointed out that by next elections system reforms have to be carried out to prevent the above-mentioned election fraud.

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