The HAK rejected the official results of Sunday’s municipal elections as fraudulent as it rallied over 10,000 supporters in downtown Yerevan.
In a trademark lengthy speech, Ter-Petrosian said the opposition alliance will refuse to take up at least 12 seats in the city’s 65-strong Council of Elders that it has won, according to the government-controlled Central Election Commission (CEC). He said it will instead continue to fight for leadership change in the country.
“Only one thing is making progress in Armenia,” said Ter-Petrosian. “That is the mechanism for rigging elections.”
Preliminary official vote results released by the CEC showed President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) cruising to a landslide victory in the polls with 47.4 percent of the vote. Under Armenian law, that means the HHK’s top candidate, Gagik Beglarian, has been automatically elected Yerevan mayor. The HAK came in a distant third with only 17.4 percent.
Ter-Petrosian and other top HAK figures dismissed the official vote tally as the result of widespread electoral fraud. The former Armenian president referred to vote buying as the most common form of fraud, claiming that between 100,000 and 150,000 Yerevan residents sold their votes to the HHK. He said the ruling party could not have otherwise garnered more votes in Yerevan than Sarkisian did during last year’s disputed presidential election.
“With these elections Serzh Sarkisian has closed the path of dialogue [with the opposition] and the establishment of national solidarity,” declared Ter-Petrosian. “He has burned all the bridges.”
“Serzh Sarkisian is not the president of Armenia,” he said, triggering “Levon! Levon!” chants by the crowd. “Serzh Sarkisian is an ordinary usurper who must be immediately ousted and put on trial.
“We are officially refusing to engage in any dialogue with Serzh Sarkisian on any condition.
“No document signed by Serzh Sarkisian has a legal force for us. Especially if that document applies to Turkish-Armenian relations and the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.”
Ter-Petrosian and his associates have repeatedly stated until now that they will be ready to negotiate with the Sarkisian administration all opposition members arrested following the February 2008 election are set free. More than 50 of them remain in jail.
Armenia -- A young woman wrapped in the Armenian national flag listens to a speech at an opposition rally in Yerevan on June 1, 2009.
In his 45-minute speech, Ter-Petrosian indicated that he will not rush to repeat the kind of non-stop anti-government protests which followed the 2008 ballot, putting a brave face on the HAK’s electoral performance and urging supporters not to fall into a “defeatist mood.”
Other speakers made similar appeals to the crowd. “This election was a very serious test for us,” said Levon Zurabian. “We are gradually building a well-organized election machine. We may need it very soon.”
“Until we seriously analyze the situation, development trends, our and the authorities’ chances, we will not lead the people to any adventure. Forget about that,” Ter-Petrosian told the crowd. He promised to present a plan of further opposition actions at the next HAK rally scheduled for June 12.