Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 66

The OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced on April 3 that evidence of "serious irregularities" in Armenia’s March 30 presidential runoff is accumulating. According to an official statement, OSCE/ODIHR monitors are reviewing continuing reports of vote fraud and other breaches of the electoral process. The organization is extending the stay of its election monitoring mission in Armenia so that it can complete its assessment of the election. It will issue a full report in the next several days. (Reuter, April 3)

According to the Central Electoral Commission’s official tally, Prime Minister and Acting President Robert Kocharian defeated former Communist party leader Karen Demirchian by a margin of 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent. Kocharian’s inauguration is tentatively scheduled for April 9. It may coincide with the release of the OSCE report that now seems likely to question the election’s validity.

On April 1, the OSCE had issued a preliminary assessment that took note of some "irregularities" and "shortcomings," but pronounced the election result valid and the conduct of the election a marked improvement over the 1995 parliamentary and 1996 presidential elections. That preliminary assessment differed only in degree from the generally positive evaluations given by the Council of Europe and other monitoring groups.

The OSCE/ODIHR’s judgment of the first round of the election, held on March 16, was also more negative than that of other monitoring groups. The OSCE delegation criticized flaws in the electoral process, but accepted as valid the result of that round, which sent Kocharian and Demirchian into the runoff. Kocharian’s camp and other nationalist groups retorted that the OSCE was interested in undermining the front-runner’s legitimacy in order to deal with a vulnerable Armenian president in the OSCE-mediated negotiations on Karabakh.

In the 1996 presidential election, the OSCE delegation also differed from other monitoring groups, but to the positive. It accepted the election of Levon Ter-Petrosian as valid, only to revise its judgment afterward at the organization’s headquarters.

Kyrgyzstan Reorganizes Government.