YEREVAN—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia announced Wednesday that a special Congress of the party held a day before overwhelmingly decided to not field a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia.
“In accordance with the Supreme Assembly’s July decision, the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia took the initiative of putting forward a process to form a wide accord around a unified political agenda. Efforts were made with active political forces and civic circles to create an accord around a political platform so as to develop a unified oppositional front,” said a statement issued by the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia on Wednesday.
“Both, this initiative and the political agenda that was introduced were welcomed and certain prerequisites for making the process effective did exist. The possibility existed to at least restore the people’s broken trust in elections, to generate a qualitatively new situation, to conduct truly competitive elections and to create the ground for the regime change. However, preconceived approaches conditioning the accord with this or that concrete candidate prevented the efforts – to participate in the presidential election with a united agenda– from reaching their logical conclusion,” added the statement.
Taking the current situation into consideration and based on the aforementioned assertions, the ARF Supreme Council Assembly of Armenia, decided “1. Not to nominate a candidate for the upcoming February 18, 2013 presidential election. 2. Ruled out supporting the candidate of the authorities, to authorize the Supreme Council to follow the pre-electoral processes and, if the need arises, to orient the ARF members and supporters accordingly. 3. To continue pursuing with all political means the realization of the party’s seven-point platform,” added the statement.
At a press conference Wednesday, ARF Supreme Council of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian, ARF Parliamentary Faction member Aghvan Vartanian and ARF Supreme Council of Armenia member Arsen Hambartsumian outlined the party’s decision by saying that the current reality in Armenia—the manner in which elections are run and the shadowy political relations inherent in the country—was one of the factors that prompted the party to stay out of the elections.
“The nature of elections which has unfortunately taken hold in Armenia and — like many other areas of our life such as the economy and political relations — is shadowy,” said Vartianian.
“People go to the polls but the decision [on an election outcome] was made long ago through other means and levers. We have not managed to create joint mechanisms for changing that nature,” added Vartanian.
He also cited the failure to form a united opposition front by nominating a single candidate.
“Participation in the predetermined elections would mean being part of a ready-made scenario. We have said on many occasions we do no play the game of others and are never guided by the scenario set forth by others,” said Vartanian.
The ARF leader emphasized that not nominating its own candidate did not mean that the party will withdraw from taking party in the electoral process
“On the contrary, we’ll be trying to ensure that the electoral processes develop in the proper direction,” he said.
The ARF publicized its election platform earlier this fall with a seven-point plan that included shifting Armenia’s governance to a parliamentary system and urging the immediate removal of Armenia’s signature from the Armenia-Turkey protocols.
Party leaders met with major political factions in Armenia, including President Serzh Sarkisian, but were unable to create broad-based support for the plan.
Sarkisian, who made his re-election bid official last month, rejected the two aforementioned main tenets of the plan.
On Tuesday, former president and leader of the Armenian National Congress, Levon Ter-Petrosian also announced that he would not seek the presidency, joining the leader of the Prosperous Armenian Party Gagik Tsarukian, who announced that he, too, would not run for office and pledged that his party would not endorse Sarkisian’s candidacy.