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Opposition Leader Slams ‘De Facto’ New Parliament


Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian addresses an election campaign rally in Yerevan, 2May2012.

Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian addresses an election campaign rally in Yerevan, 2May2012.

Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, on Tuesday rejected as illegitimate the official results of Armenia’s parliamentary elections, saying that they deepened “a nationwide abyss.”

In a written statement, Hovannisian seemed to add his voice to opposition allegations that the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and its partners in the governing coalition won the vast majority of parliament seats through vote buying. “The incumbent regime has imposed in unprecedented manner a cult of complicity upon large segments of the Armenian public,” he charged.

“Once again the people of Armenia have received a de facto legislature and, unless we together and immediately act to return to them the power and protection they are due, the Republic is condemned to greet the next in a long line of de facto presidents as well,” Hovannisian said. “We deserve -- and must achieve -- de jure leadership both in parliament and at the presidency,” he added.

Zharangutyun contested the May 6 elections in an unofficial alliance with another opposition party, the Free Democrats. According to official vote results, they won about 5.7 percent of the vote and will have 5 seats in the 131-member National Assembly.

The Free Democrats also condemned the Armenian authorities’ handling of the vote in a separate statement issued on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the elections did not uphold the real will of Armenian citizens and the real correlation of political forces in the parliament,” it said. “The will of the people was subordinated to a torrent of vote bribes this time as well.”

Hovannisian was due to detail his bloc’s post-election strategy at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday. However, the Zharangutyun leader cancelled it at the last minute and issued the written statement instead. The statement said Zharangutyun will hold an extraordinary congress on June 2 to “deliberate” its further actions.

The announcement came amid media reports about differences within the Zharangutyun/Free Democrats leadership. In particular, some party activists are reportedly pushing for a permanent boycott of the new parliament.

“There are different opinions on different decisions, and there are also disagreements,” Hovsep Khurshudian, the Zharangutyun spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). But he did not give details.

Asked about the possibility of Zharangutyun abandoning its parliament seats, Khurshudian said, “Nothing is ruled out. The final answers will be given on June 2. Discussions are going on.”
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