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Dashnak Leader Dismisses Election Law Offer From Ter-Petrosian


Armenia - Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), at a news conference.

Armenia - Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), at a news conference.

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has dismissed as a publicity stunt calls by the rival Armenian National Congress (HAK) for the country’s leading opposition groups jointly fight for the proper conduct of the next national elections.

Vahan Hovannisian questioned the sincerity of the HAK proposal to draft fresh and radical amendments to Armenia’s Electoral Code. He said the bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian “mocked” Dashnaktsutyun and another major opposition party, Zharangutyun, when they tried unsuccessfully to push such changes through the government-controlled parliament earlier this year.

“At that time it would not have hurt to have the support of the street, so to speak,” Hovannisian told a news conference at the weekend. “The Electoral Code would have undergone a much more positive reform had the HAK and the rallies led by it backed our struggle. They didn’t do that and now suddenly remember [the code.]”

“Why should we become part of their [campaign?] Let them join ours,” he added in reference to a public campaign against electoral fraud that was launched by his party in February.

Armenia -- ANC coordinator Levon Zurabian speaking at oppositions rally in Yerevan, 30 September, 2011

Armenia -- ANC coordinator Levon Zurabian speaking at oppositions rally in Yerevan, 30 September, 2011

Despite having strained relations, the three opposition forces have very similar views on anti-fraud safeguards which they believe should be added to the Electoral Code. HAK coordinator Levon Zurabian suggested late last week that they work out a relevant “common platform” and press the Armenian government to accept it.

Zharangutyun representatives say they support the idea in principle but will discuss it only after receiving a formal offer from the HAK.

Zurabian on Monday described the reactions from Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun as “normal.” He also insisted that Hovannisian’s critical remarks did not amount to an explicit rejection of the idea advanced by Ter-Petrosian’s bloc.

“At this point this reaction [from Dashnaktsutyun] is not creating any obstacles to the launch of such a process,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

A top representative of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) made clear on Friday that the HHK-led parliamentary majority will block the kind of election-related amendments that are sought by the opposition. Eduard Sharmazanov said the amendments adopted by the National Assembly in May are good enough for the freedom and fairness of future Armenian elections.

“We didn’t expect a different response from these authorities,” said Zurabian. He claimed that this stance is exposing their plans to rig the May 2012 parliamentary elections.
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