“Hayots Ashkhar” again attacks the former human rights ombudsperson, Larisa Alaverdian, complaining that the controversy surrounding her removal has dominated the new year’s news. “In case things go on like this, we won’t be surprised if the former ombudsperson finds herself in the radical [opposition] camp,” writes the pro-presidential daily. The paper says that instead of “stubbornly clinging to her post” and exploiting omissions in Armenian legislation, Alaverdian should have quit “with dignity.” It also reiterates its view that the Ombudsperson’s Office has not provided meaningful assistance to any victim of human rights violations.
“Aravot” discusses continuing infighting in the governing coalition. An unnamed leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is quoted as saying privately that if parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian were to be elected president “I would prefer to see the [former ruling] HHSh return to power.” The paper says the remark testifies to the extent of mutual dislike between Dashnaktsutyun, Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir and the Republican Party (HHK). “The three coalition forces would prefer to prepare for the next parliamentary elections separately, but Robert Kocharian is almost forcibly compelling them to stay together until May 2007. And in these conditions, all the coalition can do is to agree on the rules of co-existence.”
“I think we should maintain the coalition’s existence until 2007 because with the  memorandum all three forces assumed responsibility,” the HHK’s Galust Sahakian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Taking other decisions halfway through would hardly be understood by the people.” Sahakian says the coalition parties are now “trying to reach agreement” on the election of the next ombudsperson and the appointment of two members of Armenia’s Justice Council. “That is necessary for ensuring that the coalition is truly united and not divided when the next session of the National Assembly begins in three weeks’ time,” he explains.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the coalition parties and Kocharian are likely to replace Alaverdian by her former deputy, Rafik Mkhitarian. The paper believes that as an ombudsperson Mkhitarian would be quite subservient to the authorities.
“It is obvious that the coalition is responsible for the existing situation,” Albert Bazeyan, an opposition parliamentarian, tells “Aravot.” Bazeyan says the coalition will not collapse soon because it remains a marriage of convenience. “But each [of its members] aspires to a greater role in the government,” he claims.