Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian on Tuesday insisted that he is the rightful winner of Monday’s presidential election and rejected as fraudulent official vote results giving victory to President Serzh Sarkisian.
Rallying thousands of supporters in Yerevan, Hovannisian gave Sarkisian until Wednesday evening to meet him and discuss “the transfer of power to the Armenian people.”
“I am already the elected president of the Republic of Armenia,” he told the enthusiastic crowd in the city’s Liberty Square. “I want to come here tomorrow at 5 p.m. and report to you that I met with Mr. Sarkisian and that he had the strength, manliness … to say that the Armenian people won and congratulate them.”
The U.S.-politician, who was Sarkisian’s main election challenger, would not say what he will do if the incumbent reject his demands. He said he will unveil his further steps at the next rally. He also said that he will use “all constitutional methods” to have the official vote results annulled.
Hovannisian addressed supporters and spoke to journalists in the square after the Central Election Commission (CEC) formalized its preliminary vote results that gave Sarkisian 58.6 percent of the vote. According to the CEC, Hovannisian got 36.8 percent. Another opposition candidate, Hrant Bagratian, finished a distant third with 2.2 percent.
The official figures showed Hovannisian defeating the incumbent president in three districts in Yerevan, Armenia’s second and third largest cities of Gyumri and Vanadzor respectively as well as several major towns.
Unlike Hovannisian, Bagratian did not reject the CEC tally out of hand. Asked by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), whether he thinks Monday’s vote was rigged, he said, “I can’t tell. In order to make such a claim I need to know the scale of violations.”
Bagratian revealed that he, Hovannisian and other opposition candidates are now discussing the possibility of issuing a joint statement on the election. He did not want to go into details.
Meanwhile, the CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, defended the credibility of the official vote results. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), he suggested that that the presidential ballot was the most democratic in the country’s history.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for Sarkisian’s Republican Party, also insisted that the election was free and fair. “The holding of democratic elections in Armenia is now an irrefutable fact,” he said.