By Anush Martirosian
The opposition Zharangutyun party pledged on Wednesday to be actively involved in the conduct of the forthcoming municipal elections in Yerevan despite its decision not to contest them.
The decision was taken at the weekend after the failure of its negotiations with another leading opposition force, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), over the formation of an electoral alliance.
Zharangutyun representatives again defended the de facto boycott, saying that the party’s separate participation in the May 31 elections would have divided the Armenian opposition and thereby benefited pro-government parties. They also said Zharangutyun will strive for the freedom and fairness of the polls, including through its control of one of the nine seats in various-level election commissions.
Zharangutyun, which is the only opposition party represented in Armenia’s parliament, ceded some of its commission seats to HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and his supporters ahead of the February 2008 presidential election. Vartan Khachatrian, one of its senior members and seven parliamentarians, made clear that this will not happen this time around.
“You can’t give and take seats in election commissions,” Khachatrian told journalists. Such a move would be a “legal nonsense,” he said.
“This time Zharangutyun has enough licensed [election commission] members to cover Yerevan,” said Hovsep Khurshudian, the chief party spokesman. “Everyone -- the public, our colleagues, the authorities -- has seen how Zharangutyun members fight in commissions.”
Khurshudian also argued that the HAK has not asked his party to allow its representatives to sit on election commissions. A spokesman for the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance, Arman Musinian, confirmed this, saying that the HAK has not yet discussed the matter.
(Photolur photo: Khurshudian, left, and Khachatrian speak at a joint news conference.)