Electoral Body Warns of ‘Collapsing’ Local Polls

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Central Election Commission warned on Tuesday that Armenian courts risk torpedoing upcoming local elections by offering a different interpretation of the law and registering candidates the CEC says are not eligible to stand.

"Responsibility for a [possible] failure of the October 24 elections rests with the courts of first instance," the CEC said in a unanimously approved statement that heightened a row over a registration provision in the electoral legislation.

The current law stipulates that only those citizens who resided in a particular community for at least one year prior to polling may run for its self-government bodies. However–an ambiguous wording of the clause has resulted in a dispute on when it enters into force.

The CEC has ruled that the one-year requirement is applicable to this month’s elections–whereas the main author of the controversial law–parliament deputy Victor Dallakian–says it is to take effect next March. Courts throughout Armenia have so far backed Dallakian’s reading of the law–reinstating dozens of individuals as election candidates.

Vahe Varsanian–an outspoken CEC member–on Tuesday accused Justice Minister David Harutiunian of "instructing" judges to overrule decisions of election officials.

The deeply divided members of Yerevan’s municipal commission have failed to make Monday’s deadline for candidates’ registration–leaving the elections in three city districts in doubt.

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