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Dashnaks Look For Election Volunteers


Armenia - Hrant Markarian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks to journalists, 27Feb2012.

Armenia - Hrant Markarian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks to journalists, 27Feb2012.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) hopes to recruit thousands of volunteers who would help it fight against possible fraud in the May 6 parliamentary elections, a leader of the opposition party said on Monday.

“We have initiated a movement of free election volunteers … We will start volunteer registration soon,” Hrant Markarian told journalists.

“Those 10,000 or so people must force fair elections in this country,” he said. “These elections can be fair if the authorities are forced to do that.”

Markarian explained that the volunteers will work as party proxies and even fill electoral commission seats reserved for Dashnaktsutyun. The party needs honest activists who cannot be intimidated or bribed by government loyalists, he said.

“The fact is that precinct commission members were bribed as much as ordinary voters were [in previous Armenian elections,] and we must be able to stop that,” added Markarian.

Dashnaktsutyun already launched a public campaign in February last year with the stated aim of facilitating the proper conduct of the next presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Party leaders said the campaign called “A Vote is Power” will focus on raising public awareness of electoral rights and discouraging Armenians from selling their votes.

The party, which was part of Armenia’s governing coalition until 2009, has also been campaigning lately for the May elections to be held only under the system of proportional representation. Like the other major opposition groups, it believes that such electoral reform would make vote rigging more difficult.

Markarian also revealed on Monday that he regularly meets with President Serzh Sarkisian despite being in opposition to his administration. “We don’t meet to confess our love to one another,” he said. “We meet to debate and argue over elections, foreign policy, the Karabakh issue and other matters.”
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