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Opposition Bloc Demands That CEC Appropriately Reacts to Distribution of Pre-Marked Ballot Papers by Republicans

Given the fact that Republicam mayoral candidate Taron Margaryan’s campaign staff were caught on Thursday distributing pre-marked ballot papers along with bribes, the opposition Yelk alliance has appealed to the Central Election Commission of Armenia, demanding that either the ruling Republican Party be disqualified from participating in the Sunday mayoral elections or a special mechanism be developed to prevent the fraudulent ballots from being considered valid, Yelk leader and mayoral candidate Nikol Pashinyan told reporters Friday.

Yelk member and Yerevan City Council candidate Edmon Marukyan, in turn, stated that even if the CEC denies the first demand, the second one should at least be granted. Ballots marked with deferent-colored pens, according to Marukyan, have to be declared invalid, and only the envelopes which the CEC chairman will put his seal on should be considered valid.

When asked by reporters whether Yelk was thus not proposing major amendments to the Electoral Code, Marukyan, a lawyer by profession, replied that these were not legislative amendments, and the CEC could easily establish such an order by its own decision.

Pashinyan further expressed his dissatisfaction with the actions of the police officers who had arrived to inspect the Republican headquarters: “The Malatia-Sebastia police department is a myth – it’s plainly [Republican lawmaker] Samvel Aleksanyan’s police group, which is fed from the state budget. Immediately after their arrival, the police officers attempted to take us to the police station, saying, ‘Mr. Pashinyan, let’s go and have a cup of coffee. An MP shouldn’t have to to stand for three hours on the street’.”

According to the oppositionist, the law enforcement officers’ main intention was to examine the crime scene without the presence of journalists or representatives of the Yelk bloc. “When they saw that they would not be able to do that, they announced that it was late and that the owner of the building wanted to sleep. The officers sealed the area, as did [Yelk]. We also guarded the area all night,” Pashinyan said, adding that the law enforcement officers’ cautiousness could only indicate that “there is something to hide in the headquarters.”