We, the undersigned civil society organizations, express our deep concern with the nomination and election of members of the ruling “Civil Contract” party and affiliated individuals actively involved in politics to public positions at the independent state bodies.
In particular, the “Civil Contract” faction has recently nominated and elected Vahagn Hovakimyan, a member of the aforementioned party’s Central Council (until September 2022) and a vice chairperson of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs, as the chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission. Karen Andreasyan, Minister of Justice of Armenia, and a member of the “Civil Contract” party and its Territorial Council of the Central Administrative District of Yerevan, has been nominated and elected as a member of the Supreme Judicial Council. Arthur Davtyan, an MP from the “Civil Contract” faction, who is vigorously involved in political activities of the said team, has been elected by the ruling party as a judge of the Anticorruption Chamber of the Republic of Armenia Court of Cassation. Unanimous voting by the members of the “Civil Contract” parliamentary faction made the election of these candidates possible, while in case of Vahagn Hovakimyan the election was possible because he voted for himself in an obvious conflict of interest situation.
We consider absolutely unacceptable the election of party members to offices in the independent public bodies, which questions the independence and political neutrality of the said bodies, has significant negative impact on their public reputation and trust. Moreover, the mission of these bodies is to check and balance the executive and the ruling political party, while an adequate implementation of this function is seriously jeopardized by the conflict of interest created by the presence of people with partisan background in the independent bodies.
This modus operandi of the “Civil Contract” party is an essential setback from the principles of democracy and transparent and accountable governance. It is also a manifestation of cronyism type corruption and an attempt to subjugate the public system, specifically independent public bodies, to the ruling party and exercise its political influence over their activities.
The election and appointment of its members to offices in the public bodies by the ruling party do not contribute to the implementation of systemic reforms in the above sectors, it is a sign of wretched policy of merger between the ruling party and the independent public bodies and will inevitably influence both the administration of free and fair elections in the future as well as effective reforms of judiciary, including safeguarding the independence of judiciary and public trust thereof.
We strongly condemn the election of own members into the independent public bodies by the ruling party and urge to return to the principles of accountable governance, guarantee the integrity of elections to public offices and exclude any conflict of instead of rolling back to the practices rejected by the majority of the Armenian society after the Velvet Revolution of 2018.
The propagation of such wretched practices of public policy raises reasonable doubts that the ruling political party moves towards the capture of the state. Legislative amendments requiring all the nominees to offices in the independent public bodies to refrain from partisan membership and political activities at least in the last three years are urgently needed to prevent and eradicate theses practices.
The statement is open for signing.
Open Society Foundations – Armenia
Transparency International Anticorruption Center
“Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO
“Union of Informed Citizens”
“Asparez” Journalists Club
“Armenian Progressive Youth” NGO
“Center for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO
Public Journalism Club
“For Equal Rights” Educational Center NGO
“Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor” Office
“Ecolur” Information NGO