Three of Armenia’s leading political groups could stage joint protests if the authorities falsify the results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Tuesday.
“Joint actions, joint positions are possible,” Vahan Hovannisian told journalists, referring to Dashnaktsutyun, the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a member of the governing coalition.
Asked whether those actions might take the form of joint rallies, Hovannisian said, “I won’t answer this question now because everything is determined by the situation.”
But he then added, “If fraud takes place at the state level, if the authorities, the ruling party and the central or other election commissions are to blame for that, in that case a wave of protests will certainly be inevitable.”
The three political forces set up on April 4 a joint Inter-Party Center for Public Oversight of the Elections tasked with combating and preventing possible fraud in the May 6 polls. Their leaders have stressed until now that this unprecedented cooperation primarily centers on ensuring the proper conduct of the vote.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) was also invited to join the structure but denounced the initiative as an anti-government ploy. The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, another major opposition group, also refused to join in, accusing the HAK, Dashnaktsutyun and the BHK of having ulterior motives.
In Hovannisian’s words, the joint center is now working on a “mechanism” that would enable the three election contenders to prevent or prove vote irregularities. “If those falsifications are proven, if complaints are lodged against those proven falsifications and the authorities do not react, the street [protest] will be inevitable,” he warned.
The Armenian authorities have repeatedly promised to do their best to ensure that the upcoming elections are the most democratic in the country’s history. President Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed these pledges on Monday.
Dashnaktsutyun, the HAK and at least some BHK leaders remain skeptical on this score, however. The three political forces on Monday jointly appealed to the Constitutional Court to strike down a legal provision which they say enables the authorities to rig the elections. The provision bans election commissions from publicizing the lists of voters casting ballots on polling day.
According to the “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, the court will consider and rule on the appeal on Saturday.