The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) released on Thursday its lists of candidates for the May 6 parliamentary elections after weeks of intense discussions among about two dozen parties aligned in the bloc.
HAK representatives delivered them to the Central Election Commission (CEC) one hour before a legal deadline for the formal nomination of election candidates.
As expected, the HAK list for the 90 parliament seats distributed under the proportional representation system is topped by its leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and two other prominent opposition politicians, Stepan Demirchian and Aram Sarkisian. HAK coordinator Levon Zurabian, “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspaper editor Nikol Pashinian, former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian and former Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian occupy other top positions.
Many of the oppositionists included on the proportional slate will also run for parliament in single-mandate constituencies. The HAK fielded candidates in 38 of those 41 districts. One of them, Tigran Ter-Petrosian, is the HAK leader’s nephew.
Ter-Petrosian personally drew up the lists after the 18 parties and other organizations making up his alliance failed to reach consensus on the issue. Four small HAK groups said earlier this month that they will boycott the elections for that reason.
Zurabian insisted on Thursday that the HAK factions did agree on the “principles” of nominating election candidates. He said Ter-Petrosian drew up the list on the basis of those principles.
Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the HAK is aiming for a victory in the polls. “If the elections are free and fair we have no doubts that we will win a majority or at least a plurality in the parliament,” he said.
Zurabian warned earlier that the Armenian authorities will face sustained street protests if they resort to vote rigging.
The HAK cried foul last week after the authorities moved to disqualify one of its prominent members, millionaire businessman Khachatur Sukiasian, from the parliamentary race.
Sukiasian planned to run in a central Yerevan constituency which he had long represented in the National Assembly. However, the Armenian police refused to certify that he has permanently resided in the country for the past five years and is therefore eligible to participate in the elections.
The tycoon was among several Ter-Petrosian associates who fled the country in March 2008 to escape arrest following deadly post-election clashes between security forces and opposition protesters demanding the rerun of a disputed presidential election. He returned to Armenia in 2009 to face controversial criminal charges stemming from the unrest.
The HAK denounced the police action as politically motivated and challenged it by including Sukiasian on its proportional list as well. Sukiasian’s younger brother Saribek is also high on the list.
“If Khachatur Sukiasian is confirmed as a candidate, Saribek Sukiasian will naturally leave the list,” explained Zurabian. Conversely, he said, Saribek will stay on if Khachatur is barred from running for the parliament.