YEREVAN.- U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern shared his thoughts about Armenia’s ongoing election campaign in an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am.
How do you evaluate the overall process of pre-election campaign? Could you point out the advantages and disadvantages of the campaign?
We welcome the President’s pledge to ensure a free, fair, and credible election consistent with Armenia’s international commitments. We have a long history of working with civil society, political parties, the National Assembly and the Government of Armenia to strengthen Armenia’s democratic structures and institutions. In the last election, international observers noted significant improvements, particularly in media access. However, observers also noted several concerns such as vote buying and the misuse of administrative resources for partisan purposes. We hope the authorities will follow through on the President’s commitment and meet its international commitments on holding free and fair elections. We hope as well that Armenian voters will do their part to report to the authorities any possible violations of Armenia’s election law.
In your opinion, how well the statements about the apathy of public towards this election are grounded?
Government officials, including in the law enforcement field, have made public commitments to make this election free and fair and to prosecute any electoral violations. I urge Armenian voters to do their part to hold the government accountable and fight for free and fair elections. The government must also do its part by following through on its statements regarding the election and by being transparent and open in its actions. It is also essential that law enforcement holds individuals and organizations responsible for electoral violations. Accountability and equality before the law are critical to build trust in the process and in the electoral system.
How do you assess the assurances of some presidential candidates that election results will be inaccurate considering the presence of names of the people in the voters’ list absent from the country as well as those having dual citizenship?
We’ve heard the concerns about the voter list and we encourage the government to continue to address those concerns. Accurate voter lists help build confidence that the election will be free, fair, and credible. We urge citizens to visits the CEC’s website www.elections.am to check their own registrations and make any necessary corrections.
The PACE delegation and also your colleagues (ambassadors of Great Britain, Poland) have already voiced criticism regarding the pre-election campaign. Do you share their viewpoints?
We look forward to the assessments of local and international observers after the election. We look for, as President Sargsyan has said, “the best election ever” in line with international standards. We hope and expect that the 2013 Presidential election will be the benchmark for future elections in Armenia.