The ODIHR Election Observation Mission monitoring the Armenian Presidential Elections took pundits by surprise by issuing a third interim report before they packed their bags and left Yerevan on 4 March. ODIHR Missions do not always issue third reports, although as was the case with the previous Presidential election in Armenia in 2008, they sometimes do.
Armenian political analysts detected a change of tone in the 3rd ODIHR interim report – a somewhat more critical appraisal of the 18 February Presidential Election than the more upbeat assessment emerging from the Press Conference of the international observation missions on 19th February, which triggered a flood of congratulatory messages to the incumbent Armenian President from world leaders.
The 3rd monitoring report for example states that, “An OSCE/ODIHR EOM analysis of official results shows a correlation between very high turnout and the number of votes for the incumbent. This raises concerns regarding the confidence over the integrity of the electoral process”, which is diplomatic parlance for saying that they suspect that there was ballot stuffing on an industrial scale.
The report also politely reminds readers that the interim statement made on 19 February “noted that the final assessment of the election would depend, in part, on the conduct of the remaining stages of the electoral process, including the tabulation and announcement of final results and the handling of possible post-election day complaints or appeals.” This small print was unfortunately missed amid all the excitement of the Press Conference and the events around it.
In summary the third interim report states:
” • The Central Election Commission (CEC) on 19 February announced preliminary election results, indicating that incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan was re-elected in the first round. The second-placed candidate, Raffi Hovannisyan, disputed the results and claimed that he won the election.
• Since 20 February, Mr. Hovannisyan has staged a series of protest rallies in Yerevan and several regions, which were joined by some opposition parties and politicians. The gatherings were peaceful and the authorities did not interfere, but the police stated that they are illegal and could lead to administrative liability.
• There were requests for recounts and for invalidation of results of 132 Precinct Election Commissions (PECs), almost all filed by Mr. Hovannisyan. Three recount requests initiated by election commissions were upheld and revealed minor discrepancies from the original counts. All other requests were rejected on the grounds that complainants were not entitled to file them.
• On 25 February, the CEC unanimously adopted the final results protocol and declared Mr. Sargsyan the winner, with 58.6 per cent of votes cast. Mr. Hovannisyan received 36.7 per cent.
• An OSCE/ODIHR EOM analysis of official results shows a correlation between very high turnout and the number of votes for the incumbent. This raises concerns regarding the confidence over the integrity of the electoral process.
• A limited number of complaints were filed with the election administration on election day, and over 80 after the election. Almost all were rejected. The police and the Prosecutor General investigated over 300 possible offences and initiated criminal proceedings in some 10 of them.
• Some broadcast media during the post-election period showed a selective approach in their coverage of political events, with a noticeable tendency to limit views critical of the conduct of the election. A number of online media offered diverse views.
The full text of the 3rd Interim Report of the ODIHR EOM is available at here
Source: CEW Staff with http://www.odihr.pl