Armen Martirosian, a senior member of the opposition Heritage party who tops the list of an election bloc in upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan, says joining a broader coalition against fraud will only be meaningful if it undertakes to make ‘real and substantial’ steps rather than engages in another ‘imitational’ process.
Heritage led by Raffi Hovannisian, a former presidential candidate who is currently disputing the reelection of President Serzh Sarkisian with a continuing hunger strike, is a key member of a multi-party alliance called ‘Barev, Yerevan’ (Hello, Yerevan) which is contesting the May 5 elections to the Council of Elders in the Armenian capital.
Six other political parties are competing in the elections that will also determine the new mayor of Yerevan for the next four years.
At least three of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), have indicated in recent days that they are ready to team up in preventing possible electoral fraud and also extend their cooperation once voted into the municipal assembly to stop the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) from installing its member as a new mayor. An explicit offer of setting up a joint structure to monitor the vote has come from the HAK.
While welcoming the intent, Heritage appears to be questioning the integrity of such joint election headquarters based on its previous experience of involvement with these parties.
During an improvised open-air press conference in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Thursday, Martirosian reminded the media of a similar campaign ahead of last year’s parliamentary elections when Heritage pulled out of the process accusing some of its partners of lacking a genuine desire to deal with fraud and other violations of the election laws. In particular, the opposition party then slammed the BHK for its continuing charity which it said amounted to vote buying.
“When we see that there is a desire to wage genuine struggle rather than be engaged in something that was going on during the 2012 parliamentary elections, then, of course, it will be possible to join the initiative. But, naturally, we will not be part of any imitation similar to what we witnessed in 2012 and prerequisites for which can be seen already today,” stressed the deputy head of the Heritage party.
Martirosian also referred to reports that he said Heritage had already been receiving from residents about promises of electoral bribes and personal data collection. Furthermore, he accused unnamed opponents of engaging in such a condemnable practice so on behalf of Heritage and its leader.
“Using the name of Raffi Hovannisian and Heritage they enter people’s homes and offer them to sign a petition allegedly in support of them, but at the same time they inquire about people’s passport data,” he said.