“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that President Robert Kocharian has shrugged off through a spokesman the threat posed to his rule by the alliance of 16 opposition parties. The presidential press secretary, Vahe Gabrielian, is quoted as saying that Kocharian is not worried about the ongoing consolidation of opposition candidates. Gabrielian says it is too early to say how serious the alliance is.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that differences have already emerged inside the alliance. National Accord leader Artashes Geghamian’s failure to attend the joint news conference of alliance leaders this week upset his opposition partners. National Accord is also at odds with the 15 other parties over the formation of their coordinating body. Geghamian does not want it to be headed by former defense minister Vagharshak Harutiunian. The paper also reports that People’s Party leader Stepan Demirchian, visiting the southeastern Syunik province on Friday, denied rumors that he maintains secret contacts with Levon Ter-Petrosian. Demirchian told supporters that those rumors are circulated by the authorities that want to discredit his party.
Hmayak Hovannisian, a parliament deputy who until recently supported Kocharian, now believes that the people have lost confidence in the current authorities. “Today everybody is trying to get rid of any instrument linked to this regime,” he tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “I am surprised that our people are really intelligent. They understand and evaluate everything perfectly.”
A spokesman for Raffi Hovannisian tells “Aravot” that the U.S.-born former foreign minister might stand in the February elections. Ashot Aghababian says no final decision has been taken yet. He accuses the authorities of conducting a smear campaign against Hovannisian for fear of his possible participation in the elections.
“Hayots Ashkhar” complains in an editorial that most Armenians tend to vote for personalities rather than election platforms. “They can vote for anyone without pondering what kind of a state Armenia will become in the event of one’s or another’s victory.” No more than 10 percent of the electorate is familiar with the programs of candidates it voted for. The paper also says that public trust in politicians has never been so low in Armenia. “Our society has never managed to get out of the quagmire of social hostility.”
“Or” also laments “the abundance of personalities and absence of ideas” in Armenia. The political elite is driving Armenians into active politics without offering them concrete programs.