Armenian elections: one out, and seven left (but one is on hunger strike and another in hospital recovering from an assassination attempt).

One of the candidates in the Armenian presidential elections formally withdrew from the race on 8 February. The Central Elections Commission duly accepted his withdrawal and cancelled his candidature.  Aram Harutyunyan call for the other six candidates challenging incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan to withdraw from the race has not so far been heeded.

However the situation is far from usual. One other Presidential contender Andreas Ghukasyan has been on hunger strike since the election campaign formally kicked off. Attempts to get him to stop the hunger strike have so far failed. Ghukasyan is protesting against the electoral process which he says is flawed and is asking the Central Elections Commission to bar Sargsyan from the poll.

A third presidential candidate, Pruyur Hayrikyan is in hospital recovering from an assissantation attempt on him a week ago. His medical situation was reported to have deteriorated in the last days and he has been asked by doctors not to leave the hospital bed despite successful surgery on him on Saturday. The Armenian Ministry of National Security has reported that it has arrested two suspects in connection with the assassination attempt.

Hayrikyan has the option to petition the Constitutional Court to ask for a two week deferment of the election so that he can recover before continuing

his campaign. He had earlier indicated he would not seek a postponement but is now saying he will make a decision over the weekend.

That leaves five candidates in the campaign. Apart from President Sargsyan they are former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovhanessina, Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan, former Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Minister Arman Melikyan and Vardan Sadrekyan. Apart from president Sargsyan who is campaigning intensively, the most active campaign is that of Raffi Hovhanessina. But interest in the election is tepid.

In the meantime the OSCE/ODIHR election monitoring mission issued its  second interim report on Thursday. The report is largely technical. It however also says that

” While the state authorities have declared their intention to conduct elections in line with OSCE commitments, the distinction between campaign activities and state functions appears to be blurred, even where officials formally take leave in order to participate in campaigning. OSCE/ODIHR EOM long-term observers (LTOs) have also reported cases of the incumbent’s campaign offices located in public and local government buildings.”

The full report of the OSCE/ODIHR Mission can be read here.

source: CEW staff.