Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian accused President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday of seeking to tighten his grip on power in utter disregard of democratic principles and the popular will.
In a written statement, Oskanian expressed serious concern about key points of a joint declaration issued by Armenia’s three governing parties on Thursday.
“The ruling coalition’s announcement highlights the authorities’ disregard of democracy, elections and the public will,” he said. “The ruling coalition has openly declared that in the upcoming parliamentary elections they are not prepared to do what political forces are fundamentally meant to do: that is, to enter into open competition.”
The declaration says, among other things, that Sarkisian’s ruling coalition will gain an “amplified” presence in the Armenian parliament as a result of elections expected in May 2012. It already controls the overwhelming majority of seats in the current National Assembly.
“The coalition, which already enjoys absolute majority, intends to push out of the parliament those in opposition who, as it is, constitute an extremely small minority,” said Oskanian.
“This does not help alleviate the already complex social, economic and political situation in the country; instead, it further exacerbates the situation. Rather than securing the continuity of those forces which are themselves the main obstacle to improving conditions, the coalition should have worked to secure a balance within the government, as an alternative to absolute rule,” he added.
Oskanian, who served as foreign minister in former President Robert Kocharian’s administration from 1998-2008, has been increasingly critical of the current Armenian government since leaving office. His criticism has until now focused on Sarkisian’s foreign policy and, in particular, Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey.