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Armenia Vote Tainted by Claims of “Vote-Buying”

President Serzh Sargsyan at the polling boothPresident Serzh Sargsyan at the polling booth

European observers said on April 3 there was “credible information” that Armenia’s parliamentary elections at the weekend were marred by “vote-buying” and pressure on voters.

The elections won by the pro-Russian ruling Republican Party “were tainted by credible information about vote-buying and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies”, observers from the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament said in a joint statement following Sunday’s polls, EURACTIV reported.

The observers, however, noted that the polls “were well administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected”.

The Central Electoral Commission said on Monday the Republican Party beat the main opposition coalition led by wealthy politician Gagik Tsarukyan, by 49.15% to 27.37%.

Another opposition coalition, Elk, and the Dashnaktsutyun nationalist party received 7.78% and 6.58% of the vote respectively, and will also enter the parliament. Turnout was 60.86%, the electoral panel said.

The West views Armenia’s election as a key democratic test for the landlocked nation of 2.9 million, which has no history of transferring power to the opposition through the ballot box.

The polls followed constitutional amendments initiated by Sargsyan in 2015 that his opponents say are designed to perpetuate the rule of the Republican Party, which has been in power for the last two decades.

The amendments will shift the country away from a strong presidency to a parliamentary form of government after Sargsyan’s second and final term ends in 2018.

 

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