Changing Armenia’s government through elections is impossible now because of a “total abuse of power” by the current authorities, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) claimed on Wednesday.
Armen Rustamian said this is the reason why his pan-Armenian opposition party decided not to nominate or endorse any candidates in the February 18 presidential election.
“We have not stepped aside from these elections,” Rustamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview. “We just wanted to underline the main problem existing in the electoral system nowadays and the deep crisis the electoral process in Armenia is in. This is the reason why we found it pointless to participate in the elections in these conditions.”
Rustamian pointed to what he called heavy use of “financial and administrative resources” by President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration and a resulting public distrust in elections. Armenians are cynical about the upcoming ballot because they realize that their governments have never been changed as result of elections since independence, he said.
“The fact that the electoral system now precludes regime change means something is wrong in the country,” added Rustamian.
Dashnaktsutyun decided against entering the presidential race following a party conference held in late December. It said the vote will not be free and fair contrary to government assurances.
According to Rustamian, the nationalist party could have entered the fray if Armenia’s leading opposition forces agreed on a single candidate to challenge Sarkisian. “Unfortunately, we did not reach the end point in terms of agreeing on the joint candidate,” he said.
One of those forces, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) also did not field presidential candidates and said regime change through elections is not possible anymore.