ARF Leaders Discuss Parliamentary Elections

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The future National Assembly must reflect the role of political forces in the political arena," Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia representative Vahan Hovanessian told a press conference Thursday.

Hovanessian stressed that it was necessary that individuals with firm ideological principles be represented in the new parliament–in order to ensure that what happened during the elections of 1995 would not recur.

The ARF leader stated that his party’s structures would do their utmost to ensure free and fair elections to establish a legitimate legislature.

"The change in leadership which began last year should find its logical conclusion during the upcoming legislative elections," said Hovanessian. The ARF does not view the parliamentary elections as a way to attain additional leverage.

In connection with the new Election Code–ARF member of parliament Rouben Hakobian said that "it could have certainly been much better," adding that today–the ARF was seeking amendmen’s to the code particularly–to deprive community and district leaders of the right to be nominated for the National Assembly–an aspect essential to ensuring an equitable climate for all candidates.

ARF Executive Council of Armenia vice-chairman Armen Rustamian stressed the importance of three factors in holding free and fair elections. First–all branches of powers must assume responsibility to that end–especially the president.

Rustamian emphasized that the role of influential political forces in Armenia was also important–adding that those forces should rally behind this goal.

"Elemen’s which do not want a free and fair election process–should remove themselves from the political arena," said Rustamian. ‘ The third–nevertheless important factor Rustamian pointed out was the voting public–who have great experience in elections–can make a conscious choice and defend it. "Only the combination of these three factors may guarantee a free and fair election," stressed Armen Rustamian.

The ARF officials said their party was already taking resolute steps in furthering the cause of a free and fair election. They cited recent meetings with the Republican Party of Armenia and the Communist Party of Armenia as the stepping stones for the advancement of that cause. A meeting with the National Democratic Union has also been scheduled–they announced.

Speaking of the responsibilities of the Central Electoral Commission–Hakobian said that the CEC had shown a biased approach in the matter of reapportionment and the establishment of some electoral districts–describing that process as "a kind of gerrymandering."

Hakopian said there were similar cases in the capital–in the regions of Shirak and Gegharkunik. He added that the formation of districts lacked logic–emphasizing that the commission–appointed by the previous regime–"could not have done otherwise".

Pressed about how many seats the ARF aimed to acquire in Parliament–the ARF leader joked–"Vahan Hovanessian + 30," the common manner to which the trial of 31 ARF members was referred.

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