By Karine Kalantarian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will contest next year’s parliamentary elections on its own and will pull out of Armenia’s governing coalition if their results are falsified, its leaders said on Tuesday.
They said the decision not form electoral alliances was made at a conference of the nationalist party’s organization in Armenia which finished its work at the weekend.
“It was decided that Dashnaktsutyun must participate in the parliamentary elections by means of a broad-based cooperation with other political forces but without forming election alliances,” one of its leaders, Armen Rustamian, told a news conference. He said Dashnaktsutyun will work closely with pro-democracy forces to prevent a repeat of serious fraud that marred just about every election held in the country since independence.
Rustamian warned that if the vote, due in early 2007, again falls short of democratic standards, his party “will become extremely resolute and move into opposition” to Armenia’s current leadership which it has supported for the past eight-and-a-half years. Dashnaktsutyun, which has four ministerial portfolios in President Robert Kocharian’s current cabinet, will stop being a governing party also in the event of its poor showing in the polls, he said.
“In that case, we would not be able to have the kind of influence that is needed for making sure that important decisions in the country are not made without our consent,” explained the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign relations.
Like the Armenian opposition, Dashnaktsutyun charged serious fraud during the last parliamentary election held in May 2003. However, it chose to join the governing coalition, citing the need to maintain “political stability” in Armenia.
Its latest warnings appear primarily addressed to the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) which many fear will try to win control of the next National Assembly at any coast. Analysts say the HHK’s unofficial leader, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, considers victory in the 2007 elections to be vital for the success of his reputed presidential ambitions.
Rustamian made it clear that the Dashnaks will not endorse Sarkisian’s widely anticipated bid for the Armenian presidency. “As we have stated repeatedly, Dashnaktsutyun is today inclined to have its own candidate [in the 2008 presidential election],” he said. “This is the dominant mood in the [party] ranks.”
(Photolur photo: Rustamian, left, and Hrayr Karapetian, the leader of the Dashnaktsutyun faction in parliament, hold a joint news conference on Tuesday.)