Vahan Hovanessian Says Demirchian Trapped Himself in Elections

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A Noyan Tapan reporter conducted an interview with Armenian Revolutionary Federation leader Vahan Hovanessian. The interview focused on the March 16 presidential election in Armenia. Noyan Tapan: What can you say about violations observed during the presidential election? Vahan Hovanessian: Of course–the violations did take place and I do not know how they happened. There were no reports on the involvement of any ARF party member in those incidents. We instructed our party members that we participate in the elections as supporters of Robert Kocharian. But we consider it inadmissible to come to power through illegalities.

The violations reported could not have an impact on the election results–but they did much harm to Armenia.

There was an attempt to break the existing atmosphere of moral unity and show that the people of Armenia is unable to make its own choice. In other words–an attempt was made to represent Armenia’s as a herd. People guilty of those violations must be severely punished and we are going to raise this demand before our candidate–as he is Armenia’s Prime Minister. N.T.: Do you think there were provocations during the polling? V.H.: It is possible. Some people might instigate provocations so that certain politicians have an opportunity to speak about the illegitimate vote. But I do not have facts proving this. N.T.: Did you foresee the situation to develop that way? V.H.: I was sure that something of the kind would happen. It was clear that Ashot Bleyan–Vigen Khachatrian and David Shahnazarian participated in the election campaign to stir up some provocation. I just wonder how Karen Demirchian who is a serious man with vast life experience appeared among them.

I can understand Paruyr Hairikian and Vazgen Manoukian as they might have been affected by the anxious situation and rush. But Karen Demirchian who garnered one third of the votes has trapped himself as he must now stick to his point and withdraw from the run-off. He just cannot compete with those who have deceived him. I think people who advised Demirchian to sign the statement brought harm to him. N.T.: Do you think the statement may undermine Armenia’s image? V.H.: I do not think so. There is no rage among people as there was in 1996. Presently–international observers note progress since the 1996 presidential election and the violations observed could not have made any impact on election results. N.T.: Will there be changes in the run-off? V.H.: We have noted certain flaws in the work of campaign staffs and the election campaign process. But preliminary results generally reflect the actual alignment of forces and their actual weight in society.

We do not rule out that we may cooperate with the National Democratic Union. I personally respect Vazgen Manoukian. I believe that NDU is really committed to the establishment of a normal situation in Armenia. In the run-off–they must take a just position. I just do not want to speak for NDU–but they would make the right decision if they joined us.

We have not discarded our principles and they see it perfectly. I am sure they also do not want to deviate from their position–consequently there is nothing that could prevent us from arriving at a common agreement. NDU plays a certain role in the matter of forming new free political institutes and I think we’ll use our influence so as to ensure NDU’s participation in state building. N.T.: Do you think formation of new alliances in the run-off is possible? V.H.: Justice and Unity already exists and new members are welcome to join it.

Robert Kocharian has a real chance to win in the run-off even if none of the political forces joins the alliance of political parties supporting him.

Undoubtedly–the involvement of new political forces in the alliance is desirable not only for Kocharian–but also for other political organizations. Increasing the role of political trends and organizations is a necessary condition for building a democratic society–therefore–we must involve these parties in the work and not leave them out of the game as Ter-Petrosyan did.

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