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Opposition Party Slams Ter-Petrosian Over Yerevan Polls


Armenia -- Zaruhi Postanjian (L) and Armen Martirosian, leaders of the opposition Zharangutyun party, hold a news confrence on 05Jun2009.

A major opposition party criticized former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress (HAK) in unusually strong terms on Friday for their worsen-than-expected performance in the weekend municipal elections in Yerevan.

While echoing the HAK allegations that the official vote results are fraudulent, leaders of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party said the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance also bears responsibility for the ruling Republican Party’s landslide victory.

According to the government-controlled Central Election Commission, the Republican Party (HHK) won 47.4 percent of the vote, enough to reinstall its top candidate, Gagik Beglarian, as Yerevan mayor. Another pro-government party, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), came in a distant second with 22.7 percent, followed by the HAK (17.4 percent).

The CEC figures and anecdotal evidence show that voter turnout was significantly lower than during the presidential election of February 2008. This might explain why the HAK garnered, in absolute terms, much fewer votes than Ter-Petrosian did as a presidential candidate.

“This is the result of wrong calculations made by all of us and the Armenian National Congress in the first instance,” said Armen Martirosian, the nominal leader of the Zharangutyun faction in parliament.

Speaking at a news conference, Martirosian and another senior Zharangutyun figure, Zaruhi Postanjian, made the point that the HAK failed to convince many Yerevan residents, who had voted for Ter-Petrosian in 2008, to take part in the latest elections, whereas the HHK and BHK managed to get most of their supporters to the polls.

“The votes received by the Congress are quite worrisome,” said Postanjian. “All of us must be worried that the HAK has not yet established itself as a political force and does not enjoy the trust of the opposition electorate. Such trust requires daily hard work, rather than mere words.”

Postanjian claimed that the HAK did not fare better also because of a lack of young candidates on its electoral slate. “You can’t act in obsolete formats, with obsolete lists and, let them not take offense, with obsolete people,” she said.

The HAK declined to immediately respond to the verbal attacks from its hitherto main opposition ally. “I think we will have a chance to address that in the future,” the alliance spokesman, Arman Musinian, told RFE/RL. “I think it’s not right to make any comments at this point.”

Tensions between the HAK and Zharangutyun, the only opposition party represented in the National Assembly, already rose earlier this year due to their failure to form an electoral alliance. The HAK insisted that the would-be bloc’s list of candidates be topped by Ter-Petrosian, while Zharangutyun proposed Martirosian’s candidacy. The party led by former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian subsequently decided not to contest the May 31 polls, citing the need not to split the opposition vote.
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