Observers Optimistic About Sunday Elections

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–International observers monitoring Sunday’s elections emerged on a more upbeat note as compared to previous Armenian elections–calling the vote encouraging and an improved departure from other elections which saw blatant ballot stuffing and use of force.

"Parliamentary elections–which took place in Armenia on May 30–were an important step forward compared with the past elections. They were carried out peacefully–within the frames of Law–and in an atmosphere of good will. These elections will be an important step towards achieving Council of Europe standards"–said the observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–the CIS Parliamentary Assembly–and of the Council of Europe in a joint news conference Monday.

"We may congratulate the Armenian authorities with maintaining people’s rights for free creation of unions–and with absence of political repression. A positive factor is the return of formerly forbidden parties to the political arena and refraining from using the Law for implementing political pressure on the voters"–said the monitors–adding that "the elections confirmed Armenia’s aspiration to the development of democracy and its will of becoming a full member of the Council of Europe".

At the same time the observers pointed out several shortcomings in the Electoral Code of Armenia and in organization of the elections–particularly in the lists of voters. As a result–a significant part of the electorate has missed their chance of participating in voting.

However–according to the observers–these shortcomings were not a result of political interest or intention but rather shortcomings in the work of local authorities and those who were obliged to control the process.

The monitors also reported shortcomings in the elections of military personnel as well as in technical provisioning of the elections. As a result of the latter–the terms of publishing preliminary results of voting has been delayed.

They said that all reported shortcomings were of preliminary nature and a more detailed report will be provided later. Particularly a report of the Monitoring Mission of the Council of Europe will be presented at the EC Parliamentary Assembly meeting in June–along with Armenia’s request about membership in the Council of Europe.

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