By Astghik Bedevian
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Tuesday that it will campaign “very actively” for the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan to win control of the municipal government.
“There will be a very active election campaign,” said Arman Musinian, the HAK spokesman. “There will be rallies and marches.”
Campaigning for the elections of a municipal council empowered to appoint the Armenian capital’s next mayor will officially start on May 2. The HAK, which is led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, will be the only opposition contender in the unfolding mayoral race. The other major opposition force, the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, decided at the weekend not to participate in the polls after failing to form an electoral bloc with the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance.
Musinian said Zharangutyun’s decision will make it easier for the HAK to win a majority in the municipal assembly. “This is considerably facilitating the logic of the political struggle,” he told journalists. “This is creating a really good situation.”
Musinian also claimed that the political situation in Armenia is now “much more unfavorable” for President Serzh Sarkisian and his four-party governing coalition than it was in the run-up to the February 2008 presidential election. He pointed to “the behavior of the authorities and the strengthening of the opposition over the past year.”
But Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), brushed aside the claim. “A person familiar with the political situation in the country could not say such a thing,” he told RFE/RL. “On the contrary, the president’s positions have become stronger and his authority has increased in the past year, unlike those of the previous presidents of Armenia.”
Zohrabian also said that unlike the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition, the HHK will not “politicize” the upcoming elections and will focus on socioeconomic and other problems facing Yerevan instead. “Let them wage a political struggle and fight for leadership change as much as they want,” he said. “We won’t be involved in that. We will only present the city’s problems to the public.”
(Photolur photo: Arman Musinian.)