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Friday, 30 May 2008

OSCE/ODIHR publishes final assessment on Armenia's presidential election

WARSAW, 30 May 2008 - The pre-election and voting period of Armenia's presidential election was conducted in a manner that mostly met OSCE commitments, but problems arose, notably after the vote, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in a final report on the February election, released today.

"While the 2008 presidential election mostly met OSCE commitments and international standards in the pre-election period and during voting hours, serious challenges to some commitments did emerge, especially after election day," the report says.

"This displayed an insufficient regard for standards essential to democratic elections and devalued the overall election process. In particular, the vote count demonstrated deficiencies of accountability and transparency, and complaints and appeals procedures were not fully effective."

The ODIHR monitored the February presidential election with 44 long-term and 250 short-term observers from over 40 OSCE participating States. The report assesses the electoral process for compliance with OSCE commitments, other international standards and national legislation.

"There is a sound legal basis for holding democratic elections in Armenia - the deficiencies noted in our report resulted primarily from a lack of determination to apply existing laws and rules effectively and impartially," said Ambassador Christian Strohal, Director of the ODIHR.

"Improving Armenia's electoral framework does not require so much further technical or legal changes, but rather a genuine commitment by the authorities at all levels, as well as all other political stakeholders, to a democratic electoral process free of undue State interference and in line with OSCE standards."

The report makes concrete recommendations on how to improve Armenia's election framework. These include measures to address the lack of public confidence in the electoral process, to ensure that all citizens are able to cast their votes free of coercion or intimidation, and to establish a clear separation between State structures and the ruling party.

*source: OSCE/ODHIR press release; /emphasis mine/

12 comments:

parisan said...

I spoke with one of the observers, a man I know personally. This was about 3 weeks ago.

-- I wanted to kill you, I said, or to hit you on the head, or to slap your face, -- I told my friend.

-- I understand, -- he said.

-- What happened? -- I asked.

-- We were silenced, -- he said.

According to him, almost everybody witnessed big irregularities during the elections, and they (except the Russians) mentioned that to the director of the observatory mission, but it was useless. I asked him about his opinion on the real results of the elections. He said : 30-35% Serjh, and 30-35% Levon.

artmika said...

Sounds reasonable estimate to me - that's approximately what I thought would be the results of the first round of presidential election which would then go to the second round... but we all know what happened then... and OSCE/ODHIR observer mission (I should rather use 'observer' in inverted commas) - with their seal of approval of the election fraud - was instrumental in the development of post-election unrest in Armenia.

Onnik Krikorian said...

For what it's worth, I think the guestimate is about right too (and some places where fraud was low have been pointed out as indicative of that as they have about the same figures).

The fact is that it was close and neither had enough to declare the victory that they did (Serge's 53 percent and Levon's 65 percent).

As I've said pretty much from the outset, there should have been a second round.

Unfortunately, because I didn't declare Levon the winner and speak of two sizable minorities, I have been labeled a Serge supporter. As it is, I am against both although consider that democracy must of course take it's course regardless of the outcome.

That said, I would personally stress that any country deserves better than either, former post-Soviet republic or not. Had Levon called for a second round rather than declared himself president I think many people even opposed to him would have joined his calls.

As it was, he didn't and the polarization intensified with many more people stuck in between but unable to support regime change through street protests.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Just one thing, though. It was not the OSCE that was "instrumental in the development of post-election unrest in Armenia."

Many of us have good reason to consider that a) Serge was always going to falsify and b) Levon was always going to stage his street protests which is why they created the myth of overwhelming support and even announced their "victory" celebration in Liberty Square the day after the election.

In fact, it was always going to be the start of street protests because neither the radical opposition or the government showed anything other than a cynical disregard for the democratic process.

This is why I was depressed about the whole affair from long before the actual pre-election campaign itself. The amount of propaganda and misinformation from both sides was appalling and must never be allowed to happen again.

Back to the OSCE/ODIHR, however, I don't consider they saw enough to back up these claims because they simply don't have the numbers. Nevertheless, as I explained in my previous comment, some returns from properly administered precincts largely bears the figures out.

artmika said...

I strongly believe that it would have been impossible for Kocharyan & Serge to stick with the first round 'victory' without largely positive initial assessment of OSCE/ODHIR. Therefore, I consider them (observer mission) as side of this conflict. Be they as 'critical, as they became in intermediate and this final assessments from the beginning, you never know how the whole turn of events would have been developed…

But what we need most now is to look at the future and try to find ways out of this stand-off. I know one thing for sure. Unless there is at least new parliamentary election which will make Armenian state structures representative, even if on the level of parliament, the crisis will not be resolved but deepen. So instead of populist and imitational move to introduce so called Public Council, which would be still-born, waste of time and resources, no doubt, the authorities should rather start negotiations and preparations for new parliamentary election and mechanisms to ensure they would pass free and fair.

Onnik Krikorian said...

I'm not going to disagree, especially on the point of the parliamentary election.

Personally speaking, I think this crucial and not least because parliament and the presidency need to balance each other out.

I'm not sure how possible it is under the new Constitution to do this, however. Nevertheless, I also consider it necessary.

Anonymous said...

Sorry parisan, but this is still pretty useless hearsay. Stuff like this gets repeated if it suits us (% that seem to corroborate our "feelings") while it is slammed as rumor if it does not.

Most observers have no better gauge of the nationwide results as the rest of us on the ground. I wouldn't fathom any guess - how could I? I was at 2 polling stations for about 30 minutes each and things seemed orderly to me. I wouldn't even try to extrapolate to the rest of the country, much less guess at % for this or that candidate.

reflective said...

Hearsay is not worth much. This "observer" you talked to believes one thing, but publishes another? Sounds convenient to repeat.

Elections are over, elections by themselves don't bring about much change. They are merely the cherry on top of the sundae...Time is now for all interested parties to do the hard work: cultivate leaders, discuss policy, hold leaders accountable. Parliamentary elections (a good opportunity to improve the political process) are a few short years away, and given the mixed-up state of the opposition, they'll need every working day to gather around new non-discredited leaders and appeal to the people.

artmika said...

The center of the Popular Movement [Unzipped - Ter-Petrosyan led opposition] released a statement with regard to the final report of the OSCE/ODIHR on the presidential election of Armenia which holds (via Lragir.am ): “On May 30 the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission released its final report on the Armenian presidential election 2008. The statement “the elections largely complied with the international commitments and standards”, which rambled from election to election and actually legitimized the previous elections, has been withdrawn from the text. The final evaluation is now in more accord with the innumerable breaches reported in the same report. According to the new statement of the report of the observation mission, the breaches “devalued the overall election process”.

Hence, the OSCE actually discarded the previous evaluations which legitimized the recent presidential elections of Armenia, which is what the Popular Movement claimed. This is the result of our consistent political struggle, the victory of all of us.

Unfortunately, the first false evaluation by the OSCE observation mission on the next day of the voting, as well as the fact that the second report which contained more tough evaluations was put off for two weeks did not pass without consequences. If the evaluations had been objective from the beginning, the regime would not have dared to perpetrate the slaughter of its own people on March 1.

This evaluation, as well as the annual report of the U.S. State Department released a few days ago which held “The February 2008 presidential elections were significantly flawed” are evidence that thanks to the intensifying pressure of undeniable facts and people the international community gradually accepts the righteousness of our struggle for shaping a legitimate government and restoring the Constitutional order in the country. The struggle which will eventually end in victory.”

parisan said...

@ artmika

//If the evaluations had been objective from the beginning, the regime would not have dared to perpetrate the slaughter of its own people on March 1.//

That's what I've been saying from the beginning, and I agree with you, that the OSCE/ODHIR observer mission was instrumental in the development of post-election unrest in Armenia.

Of course, hearsay and guesses are just that, but I never pretended otherwise.

Anonymous said...

LTP never demanded to be declared outright election winner. What he demanded (and still demands)is a new election...

proudly anonymous said...

I think that the fact that Serzhik won majority by about 46,000 votes (or 2.82% of the electorate) coupled by OSCE's final observations proves irrefutably and once and for all that a 2nd round was necessary. If they didn't put their stamp of approval on this farce and effectively legitimized Serzhik, perhaps we would've had an entirely different course of events. At the very least, the Constitutional Court would've forced a 2nd round...It is wrong to say that elections are now over and we should move on, because if don't fix this now then 5 years from now we'll have a replay with perhaps even more tragic consequences.

The Public Council idea is a joke, and not surprisingly comes from Russia. A government body chosen by the people to represent the will and the interests and the opinions of the people? Isn't that what the National Assembly is all about?