OSCE Chiefs Push for Credible Electoral Reform in Armenia

YEREVAN (OSCE)–Two leading representatives from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) today expressed disappointment at the conduct of recent elections in Armenia and called on the authorities and political parties to commence a credible process of electoral reform–in line with OSCE commitmen’s for democratic elections–to improve future votes.

Giovanni Kessler–Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Special Representative of the Chairman in Office for the Armenian parliamentary elections and Ambassador Christian Strohal–Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)–delivered the message during a press after a joint–two-day follow-up visit to Yerevan–and meetings with senior Armenian officials–including Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and the new Central Election Commission chairman Garegin Azarian.

"We urge the government and parliament to undertake the reforms that need to be made to the legislative and administrative framework for elections–particularly with regard to the method of forming election commissions and prompt publication of preliminary results broken down by polling station," said Giovanni Kessler.

"Those responsible for violations during the recent elections must be held accountable to end the current atmosphere of impunity," he stressed.

"Although the 25 May parliamentary elections showed improvement from the earlier presidential vote as regards the campaign and media–we are very disappointed that both elections again failed to meet OSCE commitmen’s for democratic elections," said Ambassador Strohal on the last day of his visit.

"We are grateful for the co-operation with the authorities and political parties during the recent elections and look forward to working together on this and other important areas of reform in the months ahead," he added.

The ODIHR final report on the parliamentary elections–containing concrete recommendations for improving the electoral process in Armenia–will be published shortly.

During meetings with civil society–Ambassador Strohal stressed that NGOs have a vital role to play in the development of democracy. "Civil society should be viewed as a valuable partner in addressing issues of governance," he said. "An excellent example is set by the planned creation of a civil society monitoring group for penitentiary institutions".

The delegation encouraged the Armenian authorities to take concrete steps on a number of human dimension issues including the independence of the judiciary–administrative and pre-trial detention and equal opportunities for women to participate in public and economic life.

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