Constitutional Court Decision Causes Stir

YEREVAN (Armenpress–RFE/RL)–Armenian state prosecutors publicly opposed on Thursday a Constitutional Court order to promptly investigate allegations of electoral fraud– accusing Armenia’s highest judicial body of overstepping its authority.

In its statement–the Prosecutor’s Office said that the judgment "clearly goes beyond the framework of responsibilities of any judicial body." It said the law-enforcement agency is under no obligation to comply with the Constitutional Court’s demand to identify and prosecute individuals guilty of vote rigging and publicize the results of the anti-fraud inquiry by May 20.

The prosecutors said Armenia’s Code for Procedural Justice does not give the top court such authority–and said that they were already taking "all measures" to investigate opposition complaints about alleged vote irregularities.

"Thus–we find it necessary to note that the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Armenia will act exclusively within the framework of its constitutional status and will rule out any direct or indirect interference," the statement said.

Although the court refused to invalidate President Kocharian’s reelection–it urged the authorities to amend Armenia’s electoral legislation so as to provide for "votes of confidence" in the wake of disputed elections–in an attempt to defuse post-election "public confrontations." It did not–however–specify whether such a referendum should be held concerning the latest presidential ballot.

Kocharian’s office has not yet officially commented on the ruling.

Referring to the Court’s "vote of confidence" proposal–ARF’s Vahan Hovhannissian said that it contradicts the juridical logic of the document. "If there is a hint at seizure of power in the country–the Constitutional Court must display the will of society–and make a decision on invalidating the results of the elections."

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