(Saturday, March 30)
“Zhoghovurd” says that with his decision to end his hunger strike opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian again demonstrated that he is a “contradictory and unpredictable politician” whose declarations must never be regarded as irreversible. The paper says Hovannisian’s decision was weird seeing as it came just a few days after he rejected President Serzh Sarkisian’s calls to end the hunger strike and meet him to discuss the post-election tensions in Armenia. “Naturally, Raffi’s supporters will try to present the end of his hunger strike as a tactical ploy,” it says.
“Aravot” says Hovannisian’s move is “good news.” “No normal person wants anyone to deliberately harm their health. “Of course one may rub their hands and gloat that ‘nothing worked,’ ‘he was just pretending’ and so on,” editorializes the paper. “But when it comes to health it is wrong to goad and provoke a person to continue with their self-harm or face taunts and condemnations. Such malice cannot be justified by any political considerations.” The paper says the end of Hovannisian’s hunger strike is also good in the sense that it will enable the media, politicians and commentators to concentrate on the opposition leader’s political agenda, rather than health condition.
Another opposition leader, Aram Sarkisian, warns Hovannisian against repeating “mistakes” committed by Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) in an interview with “Zhamanak.” “The HAK began losing its force when it detached itself from the people,” he says. “Raffi Hovannisian doesn’t seem to be becoming detached from the people, but right now that connection is more demonstrative and theatrical than real. That way pre-term parliamentary or presidential elections will become unlikely.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says campaigning for the May 5 municipal elections in Yerevan has unofficially gotten underway. The paper says Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) seems really intent on gaining control over the Yerevan municipality. It notes that the BHK is planning to open as many as 160 campaign offices across the city.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has suggested that Raffi Hovannisian or the BHK’s Vartan Oskanian lead a broad-based opposition bloc in the upcoming polls. Armen Rustamian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, tells the paper that his opposition party is ready to minimize its role in such a bloc for the sake of an opposition victory. But he says Hovannisian and Oskanian have failed to agree on who should lead the bloc’s list of candidates. “Right from the beginning Raffi Hovannisian’s position was not explicit and he was saying [at first] that he must not be on the list because that would cast a shadow on his success in the presidential elections,” says Rustamian.