OSCE/ODIHR - "inflammatory rhetoric" ahead of Armenia elections

OSCE/ODIHR -

PanARMENIAN.Net - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has unveiled an interim report from an election observation mission (EOM) its representatives conducted in Armenia from November 12 to 25.

The majority of ODIHR EOM interlocutors voiced concerns about intolerant and inflammatory rhetoric, particularly online.

"The campaign officially starts on 26 November but early campaigning is not prohibited. Party interlocutors expressed confidence to the ODIHR EOM about the possibility to campaign freely, but some raised concerns about potential abuse of state resources, vote-buying and pressure on voters, especially in rural areas. Majority of ODIHR EOM interlocutors voiced concerns about intolerant and inflammatory rhetoric, particularly online," the report said.

The Central Election Committee registered candidate lists of nine political parties and two party alliances. The paper says all contestants met the 25% gender quota and that no concerns were raised about the candidate registration process.

Campaigning by government officials while performing their official duties is prohibited. Several political parties claimed in the media and to the ODIHR EOM that a November 19 event when the acting Prime Minister visited construction sites and attended a town celebration in the Gegharkunik region was an abuse of administrative resources.

"The advertising market is limited, and only a few media are self-sustainable.27 ODIHR EOM interlocutors indicated that many private outlets, including some major TV stations, are financed by businesses close to different political groups, and thus are perceived as strongly associated with political parties," the report says.

"The public TV, financed by the state budget, continues to be perceived as having a pro-government editorial policy. While several ODIHR EOM interlocutors noted improvements in media pluralism since the April 2018 events, some stated that public discourse is not conducive to criticism towards the acting government and, in particular, the acting Prime Minister."

Elections to the National Assembly are slated for December 9.

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