Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 185

In its final report on Armenia’s presidential election, the OSCE Observer Mission ascertained "numerous irregularities including some very serious breaches of the election law;" collusion among precinct electoral commissions and the incumbent president’s proxies; unlawful presence of the police at voting stations; ballot box stuffing; and refusal by the government-controlled electoral commissions to consider opposition complaints. The mission particularly emphasized that more than 22,000 votes could not be traced to any registered voters, and another 21,000 ballots are missing and unaccounted for. Noting that President Levon Ter-Petrosian passed the 50 percent threshold by only 22,000 votes, the mission concluded that those disparities alone could raise questions about the results of the election. The mission called for legal sanctions against the officials responsible, but stopped short of recommending cancellation of the election.

The United Opposition’s candidate, Vazgen Manukian, resurfaced from hiding and requested the Constitutional Court to order either an overall recount of the votes, a repeat voting if the records of the September 22 first-round balloting have been destroyed, or the holding of a run-off election among the top two candidates, as provided for by law.

Several opposition parties whose leaders competed in last month’s election, ultimately rallying behind Manukian, issued statements calling for an independent review of the returns and calling attention to the authorities’ attempts to suppress political pluralism. The leaders of those parties are mostly under arrest or wanted, while their parliamentary deputies have been deprived of immunity, their offices sealed, and their newspapers suspended. The most influential of those parties, Dashnaksutiun, has been banned. (Snark, Noyan-Tapan, Interfax, Western agencies, October 2 and 3)

Any official revision of the returns looks highly unlikely. International pressure is lacking and the authorities have the internal situation well in hand. The defense minister has said on national television that he and his fellow-ministers for internal affairs and state security would "never accept Manukian even if he had won 100 percent of the vote."

Regional Summit Examines Afghanistan Developments.