"Yerkir" criticizes Armenian political parties for their lack of interest in the October 20 local elections. The paper believes that a lack of financial resources is not a good excuse for them to avoid competition with wealthy candidates with no party affiliation, who enjoy government support. Even their failure to win the polls would not amount to defeat. The parties have simply let Armenians down.
"Iravunk" says President Kocharian "seems to have ordered" the state apparatus to prevent a second round of voting in the February presidential election "at any cost."
"Yerkir" comments that one of the reasons the opposition parties have failed to agree on a single candidate is their differing foreign policy orientations. "The oppositionists are getting so bogged down in various disputes that their sole common goal - a regime change - is becoming of secondary importance day by day."
But as "Haykakan Zhamanak" reports, the 16 opposition parties continue to discuss a common platform that would serve as a basis of their possible electoral alliance. They are already trying to divide ministerial portfolios and other top government posts.
"Robert Kocharian today faces no alternative candidate," the leader of the Miasnutyun parliamentary faction, Galust Sahakian, tells "Iravunk." He complains that too many people have set their sights on the Armenian presidency. Sahakian also believes that economic difficulties facing Armenians are grossly exaggerated. "I don't believe that there is that much misery. I see it affecting only 20 percent [of the population]," he says.
"Orran" reports on "yet another" embarrassment caused by Finance Minister Vartan Khachatrian, saying that his continuing gaffes are proving too costly for Armenia's international standing. The paper says Khachatrian on Thursday sought to refute his own controversial comments on U.S. position on Armenia's WTO membership, which were extensively reported by RFE/RL.
"Haykakan Zhamanak," for its part, reminds that Khachatrian was nearly sacked last December after criticizing international lenders in unusually strong terms. "Vartan Khachatrian has now found himself at the center of a new scandal and, as usual, that scandal was caused by his own statements...Vartan Khachatrian did state what was reported by Radio Liberty. It's just that last week the minister had to somehow explain why Armenia has not after all become a member of organization yet and ward off future criticism of the authorities."
"Haykakan Zhamanak" also comments that Arkady Ghukasian's failure on Thursday to appoint all 14 members of the new Karabakh cabinet reflects a "government crisis" in Stepanakert. It was only "the first stage" of the new cabinet's formation. "Ghukasian seems to have drawn the limits of a compromise within the framework of which he can act. Those seven ministers were appointed for settling scores with Dashnaktsutyun, Armenia's leadership and internal [Karabakh] forces." Ghukasian thereby hinted that "they must not interfere in the appointment of the remaining ministers." The paper claims that Ghukasian has decided not to reappoint Naira Melkumian as Karabakh foreign minister despite pressure from Yerevan.