Constitutional Court of Armenia has turned down
an appeal by presidential candidate Stepan Demirchyan
that the March 5 election of Robert Kocharyan
be declared invalid.
The Court's decision, however, was not an endorsement
of the controversial election, as the Court's
ruling declared results invalid in about 40 poling
stations, and has ordered the Prosecutor General's
office to investigate and bring appropriate charges
in those cases.
The published decision by chairman of the Court
Gagik Harutyunyan said that it "takes into
account" the margin of votes as well as "the
number of inaccuracies" recorded in the runoff
- ruling, it would seem, that Kocharyan would
have won even without the votes that the Court
While the Court found in favor of the President,
a portion of the decision drew angry reaction
from Kocharyan and his supporters. Specifically,
the Court decision recommended that a "Referendum
of Confidence" be held within the next year
to "overcome public confrontation".
Last evening the President's press service released
a statement essentially saying that the Court
had overstepped its bounds by suggesting the referendum.
"That part of the Constitutional Court's
decision is just a suggestion, which should have
been recorded not in the act of law, but presented
as a suggestion made by some individuals,"
the statement said. "Proposing a referendum
on confidence is at least surprising, and cannot,
of course, be implemented. President Robert Kocharyan
has gained a confidence vote by getting a convincing
67.5 percent votes advantage, and he is not going
to follow/accept any proposals."
Harutyunyan called a news conference today to
react to the press office statement and to criticism
from Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan.
"It is written in the Constitution that
the authority belongs to the people, and people
execute this authority not only trough the representative
democracy, but also through the immediate/direct
democracy," Harutyunyan said. "We have
found that in this framework the option of referendum
on confidence can be chosen as a way of overcoming
confrontation. However, one shouldn't conclude
immediately that the Constitutional Court is raising
a vote of no confidence to the president."
The Constitutional Court decision said events
surrounding the recent election were inconsistent
with obligations undertaken by Armenia to comply
with international conventions and hamper the
development of democracy.
decision was also critical of the widespread arrests
of opposition party supporters that followed both
rounds of the election, saying the Court regards
the arrests as "interference with article
11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms providing right to freedom
of peaceful assembly."
Among many objections he made to the Court decision,
an attorney representing Demirchyan said the Court's
call for a referendum is inconsistent with validation
of the election.
"The elections which took place don't inspire
confidence," said attorney Viktor Dallakyan,
who is also chairman of the Standing Committee
On State And Legal Affairs of the National Assembly.
"If the elections were legal then what is
the sense for a referendum of confidence?"
Dallakyan pointed to the decision's statement
concerning "the atmosphere of intolerance
and mistrust created as a result of the presidential
" as an endorsement of claims
his side has been making since the first round
of elections on February 19.