Decision 2013: Opposition candidate sets new deadline for “power handover”

Decision 2013: Opposition candidate sets new deadline for “power handover”


Raffi Hovannisian, the official runner-up in last week’s presidential election, has extended his “deadline” to top Armenian officials to start “handing over power to the people” by challenging them to accept his invitation and attend his next rally in Yerevan early next week.

In addressing thousands of supporters in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Saturday, Hovannisian said he would send formal letters to President Serzh Sargsyan, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan (no relation to the head of state) and Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan to come to the next opposition gathering scheduled for March 5 and “answer” for all the “unlawfulness and injustices”.

At the same time, he indicated that he would not mind meeting any of these officials in their own offices, as, he stressed, these offices already belong to the people.

Hovannisian, who, according to the Central Election Commission, polled close to 37 percent of the vote in the February 18 presidential election, is disputing the reelection of incumbent President Sargsyan, who officially garnered nearly 59 percent of the vote.

He, however, has not yet decided whether he should seek the annulment of the election outcome at the Constitutional Court.

Addressing his supporters at the rally the opposition leader said specialists of his team will consider the matter over the weekend and he will announce his decision on Monday.

“If we do decide to turn to the Constitutional Court, however, it will be the last chance for its members to exercise constitution law and come clean before the people,” stressed the politician.

Earlier on Saturday, Hovannisian met with Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, which gave a mostly positive early evaluation to the election, reportedly to discuss matters concerning the elections and the post-election situation in Armenia.

OSCE/ODIHR has now published its third intermediate report, which contains much more critical assessments regarding the authorities’ handling of the election and the post-election period than its two previous reports.

According to OSCE/ODIHR observers, in particular, an analysis of official results shows a correlation between a very high turnout and the number of votes for the incumbent. “This raises concerns regarding the confidence over the integrity of the electoral process,” said the mission in its report.

OSCE/ODIHR also noted that “since 20 February, Mr. Hovannisian has staged a series of protest rallies in Yerevan and several regions, which were joined by some opposition parties and politicians. The gatherings were peaceful and the authorities did not interfere, but the police stated that they are illegal and could lead to administrative liability.” It also criticized some broadcast media for showing a “selective approach” in their post-election coverage of political events, with a noticeable tendency to limit views critical of the conduct of the election.