It was an expected decision and, so, in a way, is the hunger strike by former presidential candidate Raffi Hovhannisian -- now nearly five days and counting -- that accompanies it.
Armenia's Constitutional Court, a body not particularly known for robust independence from the government's executive branch, ruled in the early evening of March 14 that there are no grounds to support Hovhannisian's request that the country's February 18 presidential elections be declared invalid.
The court will not publish its full decision until March 18.
With Serzh Sargsyan already congratulated by foreign governments and making official visits as Armenia's president-elect, outsiders might get the impression that the train has already left the station, and Hovhannisian missed it.
How a hunger strike will change things is unclear.
Hovhannisian has tried the hunger-strike route before, stoically sitting in Liberty Square for 15 days in 2011 "to bring power back to the people." The measure brought no tangible result other than to make the full-figured politician much slimmer.
As the pro-opposition A1Plus.am news site laconically commented in a blooper, "Note that R. Hovhannisyan is on hunger-strike already 4 years."
This time round, he seems content to sit under a canopy on a bench in Liberty Square, with a scarf in the colors of the Armenian flag around his neck, and books and paintings on red-blue-orange blankets spread out alongside him.
The American-born politician is expected to comment on the Court's
ruling and announce any plans for the future at a 5pm rally today in
Yerevan. When asked if he would lead his supporters to storm Sargsyan's residence -- given his current bench-sitting, a curious contrast -- Hovhannisian responded that the "people will not do anything without me, nor I without them.”
Does that mean more hunger strikes? Fellow former presidential candidate Andrias Ghukasian certainly thinks so. Already an experienced hunger striker himself, the 42-year-old Ghukasian, whose appeal to the Constitutional Court was also rejected, said that he might join Hovhannisian's starvation cause since "I don't see any other way to save the life of Raffi Hovannisian."
As of March 15, a total of five fellow strikers reportedly have signed on; the latest, Iranian-Armenian writer Violet Grigoryan, News.am announced. Hovhannisian apparently has set his eyes on April 9, the date of Sargsyan's inauguration, as the make-or-break date for his protest campaign, declaring that it will occur "over my dead body." But, apart from the growling of stomachs, little action appears to be going on.