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Dashnaks ‘Likely’ To Contest 2013 Presidential Ballot


Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will likely contest next year’s Armenian presidential election with its own candidate, a leader of the opposition party said on Tuesday.

Hrant Markarian, the de facto head of the party’s governing Bureau, also stood by Dashnaktsutyun allegations that the May 6 parliamentary elections were rigged by President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. Echoing an earlier party statement, he claimed that Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) retained control of the parliament mainly through “unprecedented” vote buying.

“Vote rigging can be of different types,” Markarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview. “It’s just that this time vote rigging was planned and organized in a much more professional way. But if the will of the people is not honored, what does that mean? If the National Assembly does not reflect the accurate correlation of political forces, what does that mean? Who needs those elections?”

“Ninety percent of the people are unhappy with the government but 85 percent voted for the government,” Markarian said, citing official vote results. “That means there is a false situation. I would even call it an explosive situation.”

According to those results, Dashnaktsutyun won less than 6 percent of the vote, significantly less than in the last parliamentary elections held in 2007. It will have only five deputies in the new 131-member parliament, compared with 16 seats it held in the last National Assembly.

While rejecting the legitimacy of the official election outcome, Dashnaktsutyun made clear last week it will not hold anti-government street demonstrations. Armen Rustamian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, said the party will continue to seek “regime change without upheavals.”

“I am convinced that this false situation cannot last long,” said Markarian. “I believe that this accumulated [negative] energy will show in some way.” But he did not elaborate.

Markarian also said that the party has yet to officially decide whether to field a presidential candidate in 2013. “But the mood within our organization suggests that we will participate in the elections with our own candidate because, after all, elections are an opportunity for struggle and a means for politicizing the people,” he added.
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