Kocharian Addresses Elections Alleged Flaws at Press Conference

YEREVAN (Yerevan News Agency)–Armenia’s Acting President–Prime Minister and the front-runner in Monday’s presidential polls Robert Kocharian held a press conference Thursday–during which he discussed the polls and assessed some of the announcemen’s and statemen’s made since Monday.

Kocharian said that main hindrance to the elections and the biggest flaw was the announcement issued by the six candidates regarding alleged election fraud. He commented that since the elections had not ended when the announcement was issued–that–in and of itself–constituted major fraud in the process.

He also called into question his opponent Karen Demirchian’s earlier decision to refrain from signing the said announcement–and later reversing his own decision. Kocharian deemed that a sign of resignation by Demirchian from participating in the run-off elections.

Kocharian stated that voter participation in the elections was higher than anticipated. He also thanked the more than 300 international observers who took part in monitoring the elections–stressing that their particpation was crucial during the polls since democratic norms have not yet been established in Armenia.

He also ensured that the shortcomings experienced during Monday’s polls would be addressed and corrected in time for the March 30 run-off elections.

In discussing violations during the election process–Kocharian announced that the Central Electoral Commission had only received 10 complaints–and following the necessary investigation only three criminal cases were initiated.

One of the cases–Kocharian revealed–occurred in the Achapnyak area of Yerevan where–according to Kocharian–his person was exploited. He promised that he would pursue the case and reach a conclusion.

Kocharian also announced that the international monitors had separated the so-called election flaws in three categories. The prime minister explained that there were violations and flaws–but neither could have had an effect on the final outcome of the elections.

The second evaluation revealed that the violations were isolated incidents and did not occur in an organized manner. Kocharian also stated that the several candidate outcries of violations and fraud were not accompanied by the necessary evidence and were not proven by the investigative authorities. Kocharian outlined that candidates attributed the violations to his camp–but added that such violations were unnecessary.

The prime minister also stated that he had met with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer delegation chairman–at which time Kocharian called into question three of the points made by the OSCE observer team regarding biased on behalf of the mass media and the utilization of government institutions for campaign purposed.

Kocharian also discussed recent announcemen’s by leaders of neighboring countries–Turkey–Azerbaijan and Georgia–regarding their support for a Demirchian presidency.

The prime minister stated that these commen’s were an attempt to influence the presidential elections in Armenia.

"The people of Armenia are electing their president and it has to make its own decision," remarked Kocharian in a warning to Armenia’s neighboring leaders.

Kocharian also discussed several meeting he had held with some of the other candidates. He announced that he had not met with Vazgen Manoukian’s National Democratic Union–saying that "burning bridges is not always prudent."

Kocharian did add that he had met with Communist Party leader Sergey Badalian and Self-Determination Union leader Baruir Hairikian.

Responding to accusations that he represented Armenia nomenclatura–Kocharian stated that during the run-off people must pay to which candidate is surrounded by more representatives of that nomenclatura.

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