Armenia’s three leading opposition parties on Wednesday challenged President Serzh Sarkisian to prove his stated commitment to dialogue with them by enacting significant changes in electoral legislation.
Senior representatives of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Zharangutyun parties responded to Sarkisian’s assurances that that his administration is taking their demands seriously.
Sarkisian said on Monday that he has told the Armenian government to “again address” a list of 12 such demands that was issued by the opposition in June. Those include the conduct of parliamentary elections only under a system of proportional representation, something which would reduce the ruling Republican Party’s chances of retaining control over the Armenian parliament. The opposition trio also wants electoral commissions to release lists of voters who cast ballots in elections, saying that this would prevent multiple voting.
“If [Sarkisian’s] statement is not yet another imitation … the authorities should embrace our draft amendments to the Election Code,” Zharangutyun’s Ruben Hakobian said after a meeting with fellow senior lawmakers representing the BHK and the HAK. “They should just show that they are ready to deliver on their statements,” he told journalists.
Hakobian made clear at the same time that the opposition trio will not stop seeking “regime change” and embark on negotiations with the Sarkisian administration. But he announced no dates for its next anti-government rally in Yerevan.
The Armenian authorities have until now refused to enact the electoral changes sought by the opposition. “There will be changes in the Election Code but not now,” parliament speaker Galust Sahakian said later on Wednesday. “We have such precedents. That is always done one year before elections.”