Armenia Adopts New Constitution

A woman casts her ballot during Sunday's Constitutional referendum
A woman casts her ballot during Sunday's Constitutional referendum

A woman casts her ballot during Sunday’s Constitutional referendum

YEREVAN—Armenia’s Electoral Commission on Monday announced that changes to Armenia’s Constitution were adopted in Sunday’s referendum.

With data from all 1997 polling stations counted, the CEC announced that 63.35 percent or 825,622 voters cast their ballot in favor of the Constitutional changes, while 32.42 percent voted against the reforms, with 50.51 percent of registered voters participating in the referendum.

Opposition forces in Armenia alleged wide-spread fraud in the electoral process, with the “Our Home” grouping of several parties, staging a demonstration in front of the CEC headquarters to demand that the elections be deemed void.

The CEC Chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, challenged the opposition to present documentary evidence of fraud in writing and pledged that his office will investigate all applications.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which supported the Constitutional reforms, addressed the fraud allegations, but was generally upbeat about the vote, saying that the new constitution will usher in improvement to the electoral system.

ARF’s parliamentary bloc leader Armen Rustamyan told reporters on Monday that his party’s election monitors were alerted to incidents of fraud, which he said were prevented with the assistance of ARF poll monitors.

Rustamyan pointed out that factions who are claiming large-scale fraud were doing so before Sunday’s vote, adding that unsubstantiated claims were one-sided. He too urged that complaints be filed with the CEC.

The ARF leader put things in perspective by pointing out the referendum was held under Armenia’s old election laws, which contain deficiencies, adding that the new constitution would provide Armenia with the possibility of reforming election laws to conform to more democratic systems.

He also said that results of the referendum also raised questions that require a deep and involved assessment, mainly because of the large number of “no” votes for the constitutional reforms.

“We are convinced that the ‘no’ vote is an expression of dissatisfaction with the authorities. A ‘no’ vote is ‘no’ to the policies of the government,” Rustamyan said. “A ‘yes’ vote is for a new constitution.”

The ARF leader also added that misgiving about the referendum results stems from an overall mistrust in the existing electoral system.


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