By Karine Kalantarian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) urged other major political groups on Thursday to join forces in preventing and detecting possible fraud in the upcoming presidential election.
Armen Rustamian, Dashnaktsutyun’s election campaign manager, said none of the nine presidential candidates can single-handedly ensure the proper conduct of the February 19 vote and suggested that they set up a joint center coordinating their anti-fraud efforts.
“We are ready to work out, together with all candidates, clear [anti-fraud] mechanisms, to create a joint oversight headquarters that would receive complaints, reports of violations,” Rustamian told reporters. “Each of us would then verify those reports through their channels, and if those reports prove true, we can, for example, issue a joint statement.”
“We consider this to be the main precondition for ensuring the proper conduct of the elections,” added the Dashnaktsutyun leader.
Rustamian added that Dashnaktsutyun has already discussed the idea with other major election players but would not say how they responded to it. “We have had comprehensive negotiations, especially on this issue,” he said. “We are setting no preconditions or obstacles for working together with anyone.”
Dashnaktsutyun and some opposition parties already floated such an idea in the run-up to previous Armenian elections. However, it was never put into practice
Despite being represented in Armenia’s government and supporting outgoing President Robert Kocharian, Dashnaktsutyun has refused to throw its weight behind his preferred successor, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. Its candidate, deputy parliament speaker Vahan Hovannisian, is seen as one of Sarkisian’s main challengers.
Rustamian claimed that Hovannisian can defeat Sarkisian, the election favorite, and win the presidency. He also said that Dashnaktsutyun is ready to quit the government in the event of Sarkisian’s victory.
(Photolur photo: Armen Rustamian.)