STEPANAKERT—The Referendum on the draft Constitution of Artsakh Republic took place on Monday, February 20. According the Central Electoral Commission’s announcement, 87.6% (69,540 votes) of citizens voted in favor of the drafted constitutional amendments, 9.7% (7,686 votes) opposed. The invalid percentage of votes was 2.8% (2,202 votes). 76.44% of eligible voters participated in the referendum.
The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) deployed a mission of eight professional, highly experienced independent observers from Spain, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, and Slovenia to observe the Referendum.
The short-term observers who visited 48 polling precincts in all eleven constituencies reported transparent, well-organized and orderly electoral process. The isolated cases of irregularities did not influence the general outcome of the Referendum.
After the observation, the four deployed teams presented positive reports about the electoral procedures. They mentioned the high level of awareness of the population about the voting procedures, as well as the competence and professionalism of commission members referring to the majority of the precincts.
The electoral procedures were in general executed in an efficient way and in correspondence with the electoral law, despite several irregularities connected to non-competent actions of some commission members.
“This is already the second short-term observation mission that is deployed by our organization to follow the electoral process in Nagorno-Karabakh, the first being the Parliamentary Elections of May 2015,” said EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian.
“This time, again, for the referendum on Artsakh constitution we had employed a team of eight independent observers, as we believe observation of electoral processes are part of establishing a democracy. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the European Union (EU), and other international organizations should also deploy teams of official observers, as such observations contribute greatly to the democratic process of every state, whether it is recognized or not,” Karampetian added.
“Moreover, it is another step towards breaking the isolation of Artsakh imposed by the Azerbaijani government. We are glad to receive very positive feedback from independent STOs about transparent and free Referendum in accordance with international standards,” he concluded.
Prior to the referendum, the short-term observers had a chance to meet with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Nagorno-Karabakh. During the meeting, the observers were provided with thorough information about the electoral processes and on competencies and responsibilities of the CEC.
The observers also met the President of the Republic, Bako Sahakian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Mirzoyan, as well as Artsakh civil society organizations, where they were familiarized with the realities facing the young Republic.