YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian on Monday appealed to Armenia’s Constitutional Court to annul the official results of the February 18 presidential election and declare him its rightful winner.
Hovannisian’s representatives presented the court with a 16-page document containing purported evidence of widespread electoral fraud. The panel of nine judges has to consider and rule on the appeal within 10 days.
“We believe that there are legal grounds [to scrap the official results] and it’s now up to the court to decide,” Karen Mezhlumian, a legal counselor to Hovannisian, told reporters outside the court building in Yerevan. He said the opposition candidate submitted documentary evidence of “numerous violations.”
“This is no substitute for political struggle,” said Hovsep Khurshudian, Hovannisian’s spokesman. “But this is a chance for the Constitutional Court to establish itself as an [independent] institution and for its members to clean themselves of the legitimization of the past fraudulent elections.”
Khurshudian made clear that Hovannisian will carry on his street protests. His next Yerevan rally is scheduled for Tuesday. Hovannisian invited Sarkisian on Saturday to come to that rally and present a “public report.”
Government-Opposition Talks In Parliament Collapse
Negotiations between the pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament and two major opposition parties on post-election tensions in the country ended in failure on Monday.
Senior lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and the opposition Heritage Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation began the talks on Thursday in an attempt to agree on the agenda of a possible parliament session on the February 18 presidential election.
The Heritage Party and the ARF proposed a 3-point agenda that included the conduct of fresh parliamentary elections this year and sweeping constitutional reforms that would transform Armenia into a parliamentary republic. The parliament majority loyal to President Serzh Sarkisian categorically rejected the idea of snap polls.
“The majority is against this agenda,”Heritage Party’s Ruben Hakobian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It did not propose any other agenda. So the opposition will decide what to do.”
“Unfortunately, our positions remain incompatible,” said Armen Rustamian, of the ARF. Rustamian said the Republican Party of Armenia representatives were open to the idea of constitutional reform that would transfer many powers from the president to the prime minister of the republic. The Heritage Party’s insistence on fresh elections prevented a compromise agreement, he implied.
Galust Sahakian, the Republican Party of Armenia’s parliamentary leader, confirmed that the presidential camp was ready to consider the constitutional changes sought by the opposition parties.
Hovannisian, Tsarukian Discuss Post-Election Situation
Hovannisian met with Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian at the weekend to discuss the post-election situation in the country and the possibility of cooperation between the two political heavyweights.
Few details of the meeting were made public, with a Prosperous Armenia Party statement saying only that it was requested by Hovannisian and lasted for about three hours. It said the two men spoke tête-à-tête on Saturday before being joined by their close associates, including Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister affiliated with Tsarukian’s party.
“Gagik Tsarukian stressed that there are no enemy parties and that he is ready to meet [other party leaders] and discuss those issues that could benefit the people,” Ivetta Tonoyan, a spokeswoman for the Prosperous Armenia’s leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) separately. In her words, Hovannisian said that the Armenian opposition and even some elements of the ruling Republican Party should work together to “return power to the people.”
A statement by Hovannisian’s election campaign headquarters said they agreed to “cooperate towards overcoming the existing political crisis, including putting forward pre-term solutions.” It did not specify if snap presidential or parliamentary elections sought by Hovannisian are one such solution.
“Gagik Tsarukian reaffirmed his position that the Prosperous Armenia Party has always been and will remain by the people’s side,” added the statement.