YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenain Revolutionary Federation Bureau Member and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Vahan Hovannesian said during a press conference Tuesday that it is unacceptable to approach the forthcoming presidential election as predetermined.
"We think that only our people can determine the political course," said Hovannesian. "When we speak about our people’s disappointment and passiveness, it shows that nobody wants a predetermined course. Everybody wants to be a real voter. We don’t need a predetermined course or a trap."
Commenting on the term "constructive opposition," Hovannesian said that no one in the world describes the opposition as “positive” or “civilized” because there is no need to–it’s a given reality. “The opposition [in Armenia] must be positive and constructive and its goal should not be demolishing or destroying. But because this model does not work in Armenia, we are forced to use the terms ‘positive’ and ‘constructive,’" he said.
Refereeing to the party’s decision to nominate two candidates, Hovannesian said that the ARF of Armenia Supreme Convention is very serious. At this point, the participants of the convention have decided to choose between two candidates, and an extraordinary convention, after studying the opinion of the people, will make a final decision.
Hovannesian also said during the press conference that former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s criticism of Armenia’s present leadership is hypocritical, because many of the problems facing the country today date back to his rule.
In a Friday speech that marked the end of his nearly decade-long silence, Ter-Petrosyan branded the Armenian government “corrupt and criminal” and called for its ouster. He accused the administration of President Robert Kocharian of rigging elections, breaking laws, illegally influencing courts and restricting press freedom.
Ter-Petrosyan has no moral right to make such accusations because his eight-year rule was also marked by fraudulent elections, human rights abuses and other serious shortcomings, said Hovannesian. “He spoke as if the population has already forgotten his days in power–political repressions, the severe economic crisis that must not be linked with the war [Karabakh] and the terrible atmosphere that led to a massive emigration.”
“There are definitely vicious phenomena that exist in the country now, and the ARF has always been the first to talk about them without hysteria characteristic of some opposition circles,” he said. “We are conscious at the same time that the roots of those problems date back to Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s rule.”
The ARF was shut down in 1994 by Ter-Petrosyan, who two years earlier expelled its leader Bureau chairman Hrair Maroukhian from Armenia on the eve of the party’s World Congress there. Ter-Petrosyan’s regime also placed most of the party’s leadership in jail and began criminal proceeding on charges of overthrowing the government. When Kocharian took office in 1998, most of the charges were dropped and all ARF leaders were freed.
While reaffirming the ARF’s highly negative attitude towards Ter-Petrosyan, Hovannesian said he and his party would welcome the ex-president’s participation in the forthcoming presidential elections as it would add “an ideological element” to the race.
“It wouldn’t be bad if he nominated his candidacy because the Pan-Armenian Movement and the ARF poles will be very visible. It would be interesting to see how others will position themselves in between those poles,” he said.
Still, Hovannesian predicted Ter-Petrosyan will decided not to run for president, saying that the latter realizes that his chances of winning the vote are slim. “He is a very self-admiring man and doesn’t like losing,” claimed the vice-speaker.
Ter-Petrosyan said on Friday that he has still not decided whether or not to enter the fray.