By Karine Kalantarian
The former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) announced on Monday that it will effectively boycott next week’s parliamentary elections, a move which its leaders hope will reduce the confusing abundance of opposition contenders in the race.
The HHSh chairman, Ararat Zurabian, and his deputy Aram Manukian said the now small party, which governed Armenia from 1990-98, will contest the elections only with two candidates running for parliament in single-mandate constituencies. They also urged supporters to go to the polls and vote for “real” opposition forces that reject any compromise with the country’s present leadership and have a liberal orientation.
“At least 20 of 25 parties registered for the elections are in opposition or claim to be in opposition,” said Manukian. “We believe that it is impossible to effect regime change in this way.”
“Our step is an appeal to real opposition forces to follow suit and leave only one or two [opposition] parties in the race,” he told journalists.
“We think that there are other political forces that will follow our example,” Zurabian said, for his part. “They will thereby enable a particular opposition force to do well and have a solid presence in parliament.”
Although neither HHSh leader named that force, the former ruling party is understood to be pinning its hopes on the radical Hanrapetutyun (Republic) of Aram Sarkisian. Hanrapetutyun maintains close ties with the HHSh and allies of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, notably the Impeachment bloc. Hanrapetutyun and Impeachment have agreed to embark on a joint campaign of street protests in Yerevan later this week.
Zurabian said his party took the “difficult” decision also with an eye to next year’s presidential election. He again claimed that Ter-Petrosian will contest the ballot.
“I believe that only Levon Ter-Petrosian can rid our society of Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian,” he said. “I’m sure he agrees [with this view.]”
Ter-Petrosian made a rare public appearance at an HHSh conference in late March, but again refused to make any statements.
(Photolur photo: Ararat Zurabian.)