(Saturday, September 11)
“Aravot” is disappointed with Friday’s conference of Artashes Geghamian’s National Unity Party, saying that the opposition leader failed to come up with anything new in his characteristic emotional speech despite a promised “surprise.”
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” does discern a surprise development at the conference, pointing to Geghamian’s remark that things can develop in Armenia without President Robert Kocharian’s resignation. “Geghamian proposes that Kocharian dissolve parliament, call pre-term parliamentary elections and form a government as a result of those elections,” the paper says. “This proposal means that Geghamian has lost hope of removing Robert Kocharian by means of popular fury. His calculation is simple: if the parliament is dissolved the fresh elections will be won by National Unity. That victory would allow Geghamian to occupy the post of prime minister or at least parliament speaker.” Geghamian would thus have a real chance to succeed Kocharian in 2008.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Friday’s decision by the parliament’s legal committee to declare the opposition boycott “unjustified” followed a scenario written by the authorities. According to it, the parliament majority will be formally offered to strip the opposition minority of its mandates but will reject the motion. The paper also says that three committee members affiliated with the Orinats Yerkir Party abstained in the voting in a move that “astounded” lawmakers from the two other governing parties.
The outcome of this week’s parliament vote on the opposition boycott is also a forgone conclusion for “Hayots Ashkhar.” “The majority is clearly not in a mood to strip the opposition of the mandates and thereby create new tensions,” writes the paper.
“Whether or not the opposition deputies attend sessions does not really matter,” “Aravot” comments on the subject. “In any case, their votes can in no way make a difference or have any impact. In our country decisions are not taken in the parliament. The parliament’s pocket majority simply presses [voting] buttons the way it is told to from above. So the opposition is only left to hold rallies, unsanctioned ones.” The paper also shares the view that Kocharian is interested in another upsurge of opposition activity to suppress growing discord among his allies.
One of the opposition leaders, Vazgen Manukian, tells “Azg” says the choice of opposition tactics should not boil down to holding or not holding rallies. It is far more complex, he says. “Either the [Artarutyun] alliance sets the task of necessarily toppling Kocharian because he was not elected fairly and does not govern well, or there can be a second variant where one would say, ‘Yes, he was indeed not elected fairly, is governing badly and we must definitely criticize him.’ Our goal is also to consolidate the society around finding solutions to certain issues. These are two different tactics.”