Hovannesian Pledges Systematic Changes as He Kicks Off Presidential Race

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian Presidential Candidate Vahan Hovannesian questioned the legitimacy of Armenia’s leadership and pledged to end the country’s culture of electoral fraud as he campaigned in the southern Armavir region on Tuesday.
Addressing a crowd gathered at the regional capital, Hovannesian, who is an ARF Bureau Member and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, explained why the country’s rulers have failed to deliver on their promises to the electorate.
"The government does not consider itself to be the servant of the people," Hovannesian remarked. "We cannot ensure real progress in our country under such conditions."
"Presidential or parliamentary elections always create a situation in Armenia in which those who have come to power owe their success, their victory not to you, but to criminal or semi-criminal clans, wealthy individuals, oligarchs, senior government officials, who bring them votes on a plate by trampling on your rights, by crushing, deceiving and bribing people-by playing lip service to democracy."
The authorities neither benefit nor become healthier from playing such lip service to democracy, Hovannesian said.
"They have become used to eating from this plate, but we will break that plate," he exclaimed.
It is impossible to build a paradise in a sea of poverty, where only one segment of the country is developed, while the others are left in ruin, Hovannesian added.
"Our program therefore deman’s and proposes systematic changes in all sectors of Armenian life," Hovannesian said. "There is only one mechanism to carry this out and that is the restoration of justice."
The rally was initially to be held in the town’s main conference hall. But Hovannesian had to rally supporters outdoors after being controversially denied permission to use the premises by Armavir Mayor Ruben Khlghatian, who is a member of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia.
"The conference hall must be returned to the people because the mayor has [effectively] privatized it." said Artur Aghabekian, an ARF parliamentary faction member and the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defense, National Security and Interior Affairs.
Hovannesian’s campaign faced a similar problem in the nearby village of Mrgashat whose Republican mayor, Manvel Danielian, also refused to let the ARF candidate use the village club.
"Unfortunately, they fear any new thing in our country," Hovannesian told villagers. "There is one new thing which we shouldn’t fear, which we should aspire to and succeed in bringing about. That new thing would be to elect a president that represents the people."

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