By Karine Kalantarian
The Armenian opposition boycotted on Wednesday an official ceremony during which newly elected members of the parliament received their mandates from the chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Artak Sahradian.
The deputies representing the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc and the National Unity party, the only opposition groups in the National Assembly, said they thus reminded the authorities of their rejection of the official results of the parliamentary elections.
“We got our mandates from the people, not from the CEC,” said National Unity’s Hmayak Hovannisian.
The party’s representative at the CEC, Zaven Pluzian, asked if he could himself take its nine mandates and hand them over to National Unity members elected to the parliament. Sahradian opposed that, insisting that all deputies visit the CEC in person.
Some Artarutyun lawmakers did so later in the day, after the ceremony attended by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian was over. The bloc, which claims to have been robbed of victory on May 25, will also boycott Thursday’s opening session of the assembly to avoid any contact with President Robert Kocharian whose controversial reelection it refuses to recognize.
Artarutyun leaders also argue that their presence would legitimize the election of its speaker and committee chairs. But they have decided against a general boycott of subsequent sessions.
Both opposition forces will have a modest representation in the 131-member National Assembly, with Artarutyun holding 17 and National Unity 9 seats. The National Unity leader, Artashes Geghamian, on Tuesday echoed Artarutyun’s fraud allegations, saying that his party will not cut any power-sharing deals with the parliament’s pro-presidential majority.
(Photolur photo: Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian, right, getting his mandate from Artak Sahradian.)