By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The governing Republican Party (HHK) of Armenia led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian exposed on Friday its mounting tensions with other political groups supporting President Robert Kocharian, accusing them of using unfair methods of electoral struggle.
“All of the other parties supporting the president have now become more anti-government than the opposition itself,” Galust Sahakian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader, told RFE/RL. “I attribute that to their false election techniques of influencing the people.”
Sahakian warned that the Republicans will take unspecified retaliatory steps if the other pro-Kocharian parties continue to attack Markarian’s cabinet in an effort to win over the disgruntled electorate ahead of the May 25 parliamentary elections. “They forget that they have implemented the program of the Republican Party while being in the government,” he added, in an apparent jab at the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
Dashnaktsutyun is the only party other than the HHK represented in Markarian’s government. Among its top election candidates is Kocharian’s chief of staff, Artashes Tumanian. The nationalist party hopes to enhance its presence in Armenia’s government at the expense of the Republicans. The need for sweeping changes is a major theme of the campaign rhetoric of its leaders who increasingly distance themselves from the government policies.
The Republicans also face increasingly harsh criticism by another major pro-presidential party, Orinats Yerkir. Its leader, Artur Baghdasarian, pledged on Friday to “restore the rule of law” in Armenia which he said is governed by a wealthy and corrupt elite. “Law is enforced only for the rich and the powerful,” Baghdasarian told a campaign meeting in Yerevan.
The HHK is by far the most influential of more than a dozen pro-establishment forces contesting the elections. Its list of candidates comprises nine cabinet members, including the powerful Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.