“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments that the April 29 by-election to parliament in a constituency in the central Kotayk province is shaping up as a “struggle” between parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. “According to our information, the chairman of the National Assembly has threatened to pull his Orinats Yerkir Party out of the coalition in the event of [its candidate] Artak Sargsian’s defeat,” the paper says.
Arayik Hayrapetian, Sargsian’s main rival and Hovsepian’s protégé, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that he is confident of his victory. “My main pre-election slogan -- ‘Let’s create a healthy environment -- primarily relates to ensuring every citizen’s health,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s influential minister for local government and industrial infrastructures, Hovik Abrahamian, continues to deny rumors about his resignation. Abrahamian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that he knows who is spreading those rumors. He refers to them as “certain government forces and figures.” “I know their names but I don’t find it necessary to make them public. This campaign has pursued only one goal: to weaken my influence. Naturally, those forces have faced a crushing defeat.”
“Iravunk” is unhappy with perceived government complacency about the strengthening of the national currency, the dram. The paper complains that President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian leaders either have been on holiday or gone about their business as usual without bothering to address what it see as negative effects of the dram appreciation.
“The opposition has not depleted itself or stopped its activities,” Vartan Mkrtchian, a parliament deputy from the Artarutyun alliance, tells “Iravunk.” “We are not in a holiday mood and we are working with our structures. We are looking into the [government’s] draft amendments to the constitution and the electoral code and will present our views about them.” Asked about further actions planned by the opposition, Mkrtchian says: “Taking into account the bitter experience, we are developing and will soon unveil to the public our new tactic.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the authorities are now exploring the possibility of getting some opposition members to break ranks and attend the autumn session of the parliament. “The authorities need guarantees that after the 13 deputies elected from Artarutyun’s proportional representation list and the eight deputies from the National Unity Party list are stripped of their mandates they will found 21 candidates in those lists who will go to the National Assembly, ensuring necessary opposition representation there.” The deputy head of the National Unity Party, Aleksan Karapetian, warns the authorities against resorting to that, while a spokeswoman for Artarutyun claims that “the regime lacks the courage to take such a step.”