A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) dismissed on Wednesday former President Robert Kocharian’s renewed criticism of Armenia’s ongoing transition to a parliamentary system of government.
Kocharian said on Monday that the radical constitutional change initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian, his erstwhile political ally, was a “big mistake” that will have “long-term negative consequences” for the country.
“I feel sorry that Mr. Kocharian is of that opinion,” Dashnaktsutyun’s Armen Rustamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “When we were cooperating with him and amending the constitution in 2005 … we had totally different views at that time.”
“We thought that the parliament’s role should be increased and Mr. Kocharian made many statements to the effect that the European parliamentary model is very good Armenia because we are in a process of European integration and 19 European countries have parliamentary governance,” he said.
Sarkisian’s critics say the main purpose of his constitutional reform is to enable him to officially or unofficially extend his rule. Many of them also believe that the parliamentary system will make it harder for Kocharian to return to power.
In written comments posted on his unofficial website, Kocharian also claimed that the outcome of Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections will be decided by vote bribes. The ex-president himself was accused by the opposition of heavily relying on vote buying while in power.
Rustamian sounded far more optimistic about the conduct of the April 2 elections. He said he expects them to be “much more open and transparent” than previous Armenian elections marred by fraud allegations.
Dashnaktsutyun was allied to Kocharian throughout his 1998-2008 presidency. It joined a coalition government formed by Sarkisian in 2008 but left it a year later in protest against his policy of rapprochement with Turkey. The party struck a new power-sharing deal with Sarkisian in 2016. It is represented in the current government by three ministers.