YEREVAN (Yerkir)—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation on Tuesday called for a broad and concerted movement to define and defend “Voters’ Rights” in Armenia.
The movement was outlined by the ARF’s Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian at a press conference in Yerevan.
“The defense of all political and citizens’ rights begins with the defense of voters’ rights,” said Rustamian who explained the movement seeks to bring together different forces to combat election fraud and violations.
The ARF leader outlined that the movement will have two objectives: to show the authorities that there are forces that are willing and ready to fight against election violations and to call on the public to not sell their votes and accept violations as a norm.
Rusatmian said the campaign will seek to abolish the presidential form of government in favor of a parliamentary one and will end immunity for members of parliament so people do not seek seats in the legislature as a means to hide behind the immunity.
“It is absolutely not important who the voter will vote for. It is important for the person to vote,” said Rustamian, explaining that past experiences and incidents have shown that the voter in Armenia does not take his/her vote seriously and easily gives in to pressures to either sell their ballot or yielded to others.
“The only way to contain the authorities’ leverage on the elections is by creating a large-scale popular movement,” said Rustamian.
He added that the ARF is calling for regime change, which will only happen through a massive movement by the population. This movement, Rustamian pointed out, will have two targets: the leadership, which will be warned, and the electorate, which must understand and comprehend the importance of voting rights.
“The movement is multi-faceted. It will have a political, legal, and, most important, a monitoring aspect,” said Rustamian.
During the press conference Rustamian also said that the ARF has not been in regular contact with former President Robert Kocharian.
The comments stemmed from recent disagreements, which have surfaced between the ruling Republican Party and the Coalition’s junior partner, Prosperous Armenia. In recent weeks, Prosperous Armenia’s leader Gagik Tsarukian has hinted that Kocharian could have become the chairman of the Republican Party if he wanted to, adding that the former president was the reason for the current administration’s rise to power.
In an interview with the Mediamax news agency published late on Monday, Kocharian said he exerted considerable influence on the party led by his successor Serzh Sarkisian and deserves credit for its past electoral successes. He also stressed that Armenia’s next parliamentary elections should be democratic, reported RFE/RL.