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Dashnaks Against Snap Elections


Armenia -- Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, undated

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has reaffirmed its opposition to the idea of pre-term national elections in Armenia, a key point of a cooperation framework proposed to it by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.

In a speech on June 12, Ter-Petrosian put forward a 12-point “platform” for the consolidation of all political groups opposed to President Serzh Sarkisian. It calls, among other things, for Sarkisian’s “immediate” resignation and fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.

Ter-Petrosian and his associates indicated following the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan that their Armenian National Congress (HAK) is ready to cooperate with Dashnaktsutyun in effecting leadership change in the country. Dashnaktsutyun leaders’ response to the offer has been lukewarm. The nationalist party, which pulled out of the governing coalition in late April, has a long history of feud with the ex-president.

“We ourselves are preparing our platform, and that is the way to go,” Armen Rustamian, head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia, said on Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on that document, saying that it will be made public after a conference in Stepanakert scheduled for July 10-11. He said the conference will be jointly organized by Dashnaktsutyun and Nagorno-Karabakh’s government.

Rustamian also made clear that Dashnaktsutyun is against holding snap elections despite being in opposition to the Sarkisian administration. “Pre-term elections and the president’s resignation are not on our agenda today for a very simply reason,” he said. “If we are not prepared to hold democratic elections but hold them tomorrow, the result will be the same.”

“Should we create a possibility of another March 1-2?” Rustamian added, referring to the deadly violence sparked by the disputed presidential election of February 2008. Armenia’s leading political forces should instead strive for a “reform” of the electoral system that would boost public trust in various-level polls, he said.

According to Levon Zurabian, a leading HAK member, despite such statements, the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance remains hopeful about forming a more broad-based opposition grouping. “We don’t want to declare this process dead yet,” Zurabian told RFE/RL on Wednesday. “We don’t want to draw such a conclusion. We should still continue our efforts to create a common cooperation framework.”

The HAK will again rally supports in Yerevan on Thursday. Speakers at the rally are expected to include senior opposition figures that were released from prison under an amnesty last week.

In a statement issued later on Wednesday, the HAK said several of its young activists were attacked by a group of plainclothes men in the city center while publicizing the protest through a loudspeaker and with leaflets. It said three of them were hospitalized as a result.

The HAK reported similar attacks ahead of its previous rallies in the capital, blaming them on the Armenian police. The latter denied any involvement.
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