President Meets With Chairmen of Regional Election Committees

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian held a meeting October 18 with chairmen of the Central and regional election committees. The discussion was focused on the problem of holding the elections to local government bodies. The president showed interest in the election committees’ difficulties and concerns as well as their preparations for the elections.

According to the president–the top-priority task is to hold legitimate elections. He said that special responsibility rests with election committees at all levels–and the possibility of any interference in their work must be excluded. At the president’s suggestion the meeting participants presented the list of the communities where tension was observed.

Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Artak Sahradian outlined the preparations for the elections and pointed out that organizational issues were mostly settled. According to him–workshops were organized with the assistance of the UN Armenia office on the elections to local government bodies.

Responding to the president’s question concerning voter lists–the chairmen of election committees stated that serious work aimed at verifying the voter lists was carried out. They assured the president that all the voter lists were reviewed in communities and inaccuracies were minimized.

Sahradian said that Armenia recently became a full member of the Association of Election Authorities of Central and East Europe–which is another step towards Armenia’s integration into the European structures.

Proceeding from Article 49 of the Constitution and ruling No. 179 of the Constitutional Court of October 16 and taking into consideration the necessity for forming local government bodies on democratic principles in the communities mostly occupied by refugees–Armenian President Robert Kocharian issued a decree October 18 on the postponement of the elections in a number of communities.

Under the decree–the elections to the local government bodies are postponed in the communities where refugees constitute over 50 percent of the population until the problem of refugees’ participation in the elections is settled by law.

The local government bodies in these communities will continue exercising their powers until new elections are held.

The government was instructed to advance a legislative initiative for the purpose of establishing the order of refugees’ participation in the elections to local government bodies and organizing elections in these communities.

At its sitting October 16–the Constitutional Court ruled that the provisions of the Law on Local Government–Law on Refugees and the Election Code which actually deprive refugees of the right to participate in the elections to local government bodies do not correspond to the Constitution.

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