By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia’s leading opposition parties agreed Thursday to jointly fight against possible government attempts to falsify the results of next year’s parliamentary elections. Members of a 16-party opposition coalition said they will work together in trying to ensure a clean vote despite their failure to agree on a single candidate.
According to Arshak Sadoyan of the National Democratic Alliance party, the opposition will set up joint structures in Armenia’s all 55 electoral districts which will be tasked with monitoring the electoral process and investigating reports of vote irregularities.
Another opposition leader Shavarsh Kocharian, said activities of the “anti-fraud groups” should be coordinated by a central body in Yerevan representing all 16 parties. But he said they are still discussing modalities of the structure.
The agreement was announced after a weekly meeting of the coordinating council of the loose opposition grouping formed last August with the stated aim of scuttling President Robert Kocharian’s reelection. Its attempts to form an electoral alliance and field a common candidate against the incumbent have failed, however.
Eight of the 15 presidential candidates nominated for the February 19 elections are affiliated with the anti-Kocharian coalition.
Sadoyan said that a single opposition candidate would emerge only in the event of a run-off showdown with Kocharian. He said the first round of voting will be “a sort of referendum” on which opposition leader should challenge the current president.
Many supporters of Kocharian claim that he is popular enough to poll an outright majority of votes already in the first round.