Galust Sahakian also dismissed HAK’s demands for early parliamentary and presidential elections, saying that they will be held as planned in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Speaking at a news conference, Sahakian was asked by journalists how many seats he thinks Armenia’s largest opposition force will have in the next National Assembly in that case.
“It depends on which individuals they will present to the public,” he said. “If they bring to the fore self-styled political prisoners, they will have very few [parliament seats.]”
“I think between 8 and 10 seats,” he added when pressed by reporters.
The HHK and its two junior coalition partners, the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties, hold the overwhelming majority of seats in the current parliament. In a joint declaration issued in February, the three parties said that they will have an even stronger presence in the next legislature.
Armenia -- Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party, undated
The HAK and other opposition forces condemned that statement, saying that the ruling coalition thus predetermined election results and signaled its intention to resort to electoral fraud.
The HAK insists that only pre-term national elections could be free and fair. It pressed the authorities to agree to snap polls during a series of negotiations held in July and August.
The opposition bloc suspended those talks last week to protest the arrest and prosecution of one of its activists, Tigran Arakelian.
Sahakian claimed that the HAK is simply using the case as an excuse. He said it is reluctant to continue the dialogue because coalition representatives proved during the talks that Armenia does not need early elections.
Levon Zurabian, the chief HAK negotiator, shrugged off these claims as “unserious.” He said the authorities deliberately jailed Arakelian to torpedo the dialogue and thus avoid further discussions on the issue.
Zurabian also reiterated the HAK’s threats to launch a new campaign of anti-government demonstrations if the authorities continue to keep the activist in jail and reject other opposition demands.
“That would mean that they are throwing the gauntlet to us and effectively prodding us to again get tens of thousands of people to the streets and demand the conduct of pre-term elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).