Armenia’s political leadership should refrain from rigging next year’s parliamentary elections or face an anti-government “revolution,” a top representative of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Wednesday.
“We believe that 2012 must become a year of the formation of a legitimate government,” HAK coordinator Levon Zurabian told journalists. “That will come about through fair elections or a revolutionary course. The authorities must have no illusions in this regard.”
“Either they will hold fair, transparent and legitimate elections or will thrust the country into upheavals,” he said.
Senior government officials have already stated that the legislative elections due in May 2012 will be the most democratic in Armenia’s post-Soviet history. The HAK and other opposition groups dismiss these assurances.
They have challenged the government to prove its stated commitment to democratic elections by enacting more radical amendments to the Electoral Code. The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) effectively rejected that demand late last week.
The HAK already threatened to provoke a popular uprising against President Serzh Sarkisian as it launched a new campaign of street protests last February. Its top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, said Sarkisian will eventually meet the fate of the deposed rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.
Ter-Petrosian softened his demands and anti-government rhetoric in the following months, however. He acknowledged in late October that the HAK may well fail to force early national elections and should therefore start preparing for the regular May 2012 polls. He said his bloc will seek to impeach Sarkisian if it gains a “weighty presence” in the next National Assembly.
Zurabian similarly said that the HAK regards the 2012 vote as a “tool for ousting Serzh Sarkisian’s regime.” “Whatever election takes place in Armenia, it will turn into a pre-term presidential election,” he said.