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Opposition Bloc Joins Armenian Parliamentary Race


Armenia - Leaders of the opposition Armenian National Congress at a rally in Yerevan.

Armenia - Leaders of the opposition Armenian National Congress at a rally in Yerevan.

The nearly two dozen opposition groups aligned in the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) officially decided on Friday to jointly contest the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“The Congress will participate in the election in an alliance of the 18 parties affiliated with the Congress,” Hovannes Hovannisian, the leader of one of those parties, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after a meeting of the HAK’s decision-making Political Council.

It was not immediately clear if this means that the alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian will not seek to team up with other opposition forces. Analysts believe that the formation of a more broad-based opposition bloc is unlikely.

According to the Hovannisian, the HAK forces have yet to start discussing the list of their candidates to be fielded for 90 of the 131 parliament seats that will be up for grabs under the system of proportional representation. “We agreed that next week the Political Council will start drawing up the proportional representation list and discussing the principles [of doing that,]” he said, adding that the list will be topped by Ter-Petrosian in any case.

The remaining 41 seats are to be distributed in single-mandate nationwide constituencies. The HAK and other major opposition groups are pressing the authorities to abolish this system and hold the elections slated for May only on the party-list basis. The authorities have rejected this demand.

Hovannisian said the HAK will field candidates in single-seat districts only after the opposition exhausts all possibilities of the electoral reform.

Ter-Petrosian told HAK activists to start preparing for the 2012 elections in late October. He said the HAK should seek to gain “weighty presence” in the next parliament in order to impeach President Serzh Sarkisian “single-handedly or in an alliance with other forces.”

The HAK leader’s chief lieutenant, Levon Zurabian, said in late December that the authorities will face an anti-government revolt if they rig the vote.
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