(Saturday, November 19)
Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian tells “168 Zham” that the Armenian authorities will be ready to again use force if the opposition stages the kind of a protest that was broken up by police in April 2004. Abrahamian brands the 2004 rally outside President Robert Kocharian’s residence as a “dance show” that violated the law.
In an interview with “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian again makes the point that the constitutional amendments put to the referendum must not be associated with Armenia’s leadership. Their adoption, he says, is vital for the country’s future. “In this sense, it is obvious that in case of a ‘yes’ vote the opposition will not lose,” argues Torosian. “The government would not lose either in case of a ‘no’ vote … If the draft passes it is the society and the state that will gain.”
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses the draft as a “set of political guarantees designed for a group of government forces.” “With this document, various government clans are simply trying to raise their right to wield government levers to the constitutional level and get an opportunity to insure that right,” comments the paper. “This is not surprising for a regime which comprises several rival clans. Each of those clans realizes that the other will simply destroy it in case of gaining absolute power.”
According to “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” the opposition’s decision to call for a referendum boycott will force the ruling regime to “change their main pattern of perpetrating falsifications.” “That the authorities will rig the referendum results is beyond doubt,” claims the paper. “Quite telling is the fact that no high-level official has stated so far that those who carry out falsifications will be punished.”
“Boycott is like a lifeline [for the opposition],” the spokesman for the “Yes” campaign, Spartak Seyranian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Boycott does not require arguments. You don’t need to make efforts, you can relax and revel in inactivity. Furthermore, it can be concluded that in this case the opposition has rallied around defeat. That is, its objective is to come out of the defeat with minimum losses.”
“Golos Armenii” says a good thing about the pre-referendum campaign is that it is proceeding in “much more calm conditions” than the election campaigns of 2003. The paper says the coming week will be “decisive” for the success of government efforts to clear the vote threshold for the passage of the amendments.