Pages

Thursday, 21 February 2008

U.S. expresses concern over Armenia's presidential vote count

In what could be considered a significant change of tone from that of OSCE observers' press conference, US sends a signal of serious discontent with the conduct of Armenian presidential elections. Ironically, as a basis of their "concerns", they pointed out evidence from OSCE initial report. It's becoming kind of a 'norm' for OSCE monitoring missions: they detail serious irregularities within the report, but as a headline statement deliver somewhat 'positive message' of "mostly in line with international standards". However, it must be noted that even OSCE stopped short of calling Armenian elections "free and fair."

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) - The United States expressed concern on Wednesday over alleged report of problems in the vote count in Armenia's presidential election.

A report by election observers led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called the election "mostly in line with international standards," according to State Department official Edgar Vazquez.

However, "We are concerned by some elements of the report, including a description of the vote-count as 'bad' or 'very bad' in 15 percent of the polling stations observed by the OSCE-led overseers," Vazquez said.

Vazquez also called on all parties in the country to remain peaceful and refrain from violence.

Vazquez made the comments after the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Armenia announced Wednesday that Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan won the presidential election by securing 52.86 percent of ballots in preliminary results from all 1923 polling stations.

6 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

However, "We are concerned by some elements of the report, including a description of the vote-count as 'bad' or 'very bad' in 15 percent of the polling stations observed by the OSCE-led overseers," Vazquez said.

Doesn't sound like "serious discontent" to me. Sounds like the same concern the OSCE expressed.

Incidentally, at the press conference yesterday, what surprised me was how most in attendance seemed to accept the OSCE verdict.

Actually, even the reported irregularities seem better than in 2003, so if the opposition want to pursue their protest, they better come up with a lot of evidence or else it's all over.

Anyway.

artmika said...

I guess, it’s a matter of perception. When I read this brief statement which shows that US does not make any positive reflections so far, but rather expresses “concern” and as a basis of it states evidence from OSCE initial assessment that in 15% of the observed polling stations the vote count was “bad” or “very bad”, it’s pretty serious for me. I do not know how US official position will evolve in coming days, but this was the most serious foreign discontent with Armenian elections expressed so far. And regardless, if OSCE states that voting in 15% of the observed polling stations was bad/very bad and then clams that elections “mostly in line with international standards”, this says more than anything else on the real, and perhaps even underestimated picture of what happened on 19th February.

To be honest, I do not have an impression that reported irregularities seem better than in 2003, quite the contrary, they seem to me much worse. I agree that opposition should present good evidence of reported irregularities and perhaps try challenging the results in courts. However, taking into account that no one trusts Armenian legal system, and Armenian courts are very dependent on president/government and there are lots of allegations on corruption within the legal system, I do not think that just presenting an evidence in courts is enough. Courts will rule on some of the polling stations, perhaps requiring re-count or so, like it was in previous elections, but that will be it. Opposition has to come up with sound comprehensive plan of actions, otherwise nothing will change, and another shameful ‘election’ will be upon us for at least another 5 years.

artmika said...

Mediamax

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said in an interview to Mediamax today: “our statement does not mean we are questioning the outcome of Armenia's election”.

Matthew Bryza said this commenting on Mediamax's request the statement by U.S. State Department representative Edgar Vazquez, who said the United States of America are concerned over reports of problems in the vote count in the presidential elections in Armenia, which took place on February 19.

“Our statement does not mean we are questioning the outcome of Armenia's election. But, nor are we yet in a position to declare all the concerns about irregularities have been fully addressed. That will take a little bit of time, as was the case with Georgia's January 5 presidential election. We have seen the statements by ODIHR and Javier Solana, and share those assessments”, - Matthew Bryza told Mediamax.

artmika said...

Carte blanche to Armenian authorities?

artmika said...

My other relevant posts:

Full-blown credibility crisis for OSCE/ODIHR observers over election monitoring in Armenia

Election monitors, like polls: Do we trust them?

artmika said...

U.S. Critical Of Armenian Vote, Arrests