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Armenia: Elections

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) conduct and (b) outcome of the election in Armenia on 19 February 2008; and if he will make a statement. (197033)

The UK supports the various pre-election and post election interim assessments made by the independent International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), in which it participated. These generally noted some improvements on previous elections, highlighting for example genuine attempts to address previously identified shortcomings; a non-discriminatory candidate registration process; the ability of candidates to campaign at public meetings; and improvements in electoral legislation and in the accuracy of the national register of votes.

The IEOM, however, raised many concerns, such as the lack of clear separation between state and party functions and the unequal treatment of candidates in the media; and the vote count in some 16 per cent. of polling stations visited was assessed as “bad” or “very bad”. A subsequent interim report from the IEOM three weeks later, following the handling of complaints, appeals and recounts, was much more critical of these processes. The Armenian Constitutional Court rejected appeals from opposition candidates challenging the election results.

With EU partners and bilaterally, we have expressed our serious concerns about recent political developments in Armenia, including violent clashes with demonstrators on 1 March, which resulted in eight deaths and scores of injured. We have urged the Armenian government to engage in a dialogue with the opposition to address their concerns. We welcome the recent lifting of the state of emergency in Yerevan, but we urge the Armenian authorities to lift continuing restrictions on freedom of assembly; to avoid further harassment of opposition politicians and ensure that any prosecutions are handled in a transparent and fair manner; to ensure an independent and open inquiry into the events of 1 March; and to address the substantive concerns raised by the IEOM.