Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) denied on Tuesday an appeal filed by the opposition Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanyan (ORO) alliance seeking the disqualification of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) from running in the April 2 parliamentary elections.
The ORO appeal came shortly after an Armenian civic organization, the Union of Informed Citizens (UIC), reported on SUT.am last Friday that over a hundred public school and kindergarten principals across Armenia were drawing up lists of their employees and students’ parents and pressuring them to vote for RPA in the Sunday elections.
According to the CEC decision, the principals were spoken to by people using assumed identities and had not given prior consent to being recorded. Moreover, the CEC went on, drawing up lists of party supporters or of people inclined to vote for a certain party “cannot be considered political campaigning or electoral fraud.”
The CEC said it would only send to the office of the General Prosecutor the recording of the conversation with the principal of Gyumri’s secondary school No. 37 because “it contains specific elements of a crime.” In the recording, the principal says her husband and her were personally responsible for drawing up the lists at her school and scaring people into voting for RPA.
Speaking to Epress.am on Wednesday, UIC program coordinator Daniel Ioanisyan said it was naïve to expect that the CEC in Armenia would ever disqualify the ruling party or that the General Prosecutar would impartially investigate their use of administrative resources. “That’s not a realistic scenario. These were only some of the thousands of school principals [who have been campaigning for RPA] who were not lucky enough to avoid appearing in our randomly selected list,” Ioanisyan noted.
Following the publication of the SUT.am article, posters featuring the incriminated school principals began appearing in various parts of Yerevan with a caption deeming them “frauds” and “corrupt teachers.”