The Armenian authorities officially confirmed on Monday that they will not implement a recent agreement with the opposition that was supposed to ensure the proper conduct of next year’s parliamentary elections. The Central Election Commission (CEC) attributed the deal’s collapse to logistical problems related to the introduction of a biometric registry of voters meant to prevent multiple voting by government loyalists. The compromise agreement reached with three parliamentary opposition parties in June committed the authorities to installing electronic machines that would check voters’ identity through plastic ID cards containing their fingerprints. The landmark deal, which took the form of amendments to Armenia’s new Electoral Code, also envisaged live online broadcasts of voting and ballot counting from all 2,000 or so polling stations across the country.
The total cost of the special equipment needed for these anti-fraud measures was estimated at 16 million euros ($17.8 million). The government made clear from the outset that the deal will be annulled unless foreign donors provide the bulk of this sum. The government reportedly secured the funding from the European Union and other donors in July.
The CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, publicized on Monday a government letter saying that a Polish company contracted by the authorities in Yerevan has notified them that it will be unable to start publishing the ID cards before a September 1 deadline set by the Electoral Code. The company can launch the process only in December, just four months before the 2017 elections, the government claimed.
Mukuchian said that in these circumstances the CEC and its nationwide divisions would not have sufficient time to introduce the new voter registry. The deal with the opposition should therefore be considered null and void, he said after a meeting of the electoral body.
Full Article: Armenian Election Deal Collapses | Asbarez.com.