The Armenian National Congress (HAK) is not pushing for the holding of fresh national elections despite its assurances to the contrary, Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of a rival opposition force, claimed on Thursday.
Hovannisian said that all “serious political players” in Armenia are gearing up for regular parliamentary and presidential elections due in 2012 and 2013 respectively. “I believe that preparations for those elections are on everyone’s agenda, at least in closed meetings,” he told journalists.
The HAK insists that it is committed to forcing snap polls despite its unfolding dialogue with the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian.
The Armenian authorities have paved the way for such dialogue by lifting a de facto ban on opposition rallies in a key Yerevan square, promising a fresh probe of the 2008 post-election crackdown on the opposition and signaling the impending release of all opposition figures remaining in jail. The authorities have at the same time ruled out the possibility of fresh elections.
Hovannisian, who heads the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, voiced misgivings about the HAK-government rapprochement. “Its [legitimate] purpose has to be a pre-term and complete re-establishment of government in the Republic of Armenia,” he said. “If the dialogue mentioned by you does not move away from the need to put Armenia back on a legal and constitutional course, I think one can only welcome it.”
“But if that is a pre-election tactical development, it has the right to exist but it will have a totally different public perception,” he cautioned.
The U.S.-born politician appeared to allude to suggestions that the HAK’s real objective is to have a solid presence in the next Armenian parliament, rather than topple Sarkisian. “If our task is to enter the National Assembly and increase the number of our seats from 7 to 15 or to turn our extra-parliamentary status into a parliamentary status and expect that Armenia will thereby change, that we will have the rule of law, then I think those are baseless expectations,” he said.
The HAK, which is led by Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosian, is not represented in the current National Assembly.