Prosperous Armenia Party, University Students express support for post-election popular movement.
YEREVAN—Several hours after the official results of Armenia’s presidential elections were announced by the Central Electoral Commission, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, at a press conference on Monday, announced that he would take the struggle to the courtroom, hinting at a possibility of challenging the election outcome.
Hovannisian, speaking to Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian on Sunday also said that he will utilize Armenia’s constitution to its fullest extent and vowed to continue the popular movement that has sprung since Election Day “the will of the Armenian people is recognized.”
At the press conference, Hovannisian also made it clear that he does not expect a quick and swift resolution to the post-election challenges.
“This is not my struggle anymore, nor the struggle of my ‘team,’” he said. “Let people not think that this is an issue will be resolved in a day,” arguing that creatively and collectively, he will continue the struggle.
Hovannisian stressed that the CEC and all those who took part in rigging the election must and will be held accountable. He also said those who try to impede the movement of the people will also give answers for their actions. “I have to go to the place I please in Armenia to say barev (to greet) and thank the people,” he said.
The press conference also focused on Hovannisian’s meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday, during which the opposition leader had put forth several suggestions for addressing his assertion that the elections were rigged.
Hovannisian also rejected a notion that he was offered a high-level government position in return for his retaliation from continuing the popular movement, which has become know as BAREVolution.
Hovannisian said he will do his utmost to avoid scenarios that could lead to bloodshed. “I will not allow a single drop of blood to shed, he noted, at the same time cautioning the authorities not to confuse this with lack of resoluteness. “I won’t accept the citizen of Armenia to become a subject of mockery with these official results,” he said.
Prosperous Armenia Party Defends Protests
The one-time government coalition member, the Prosperous Armenia Party on Monday issued a statement defending the post-election popular movement, warning the government against the use of force to quell protesters.
In its first post-election statement, the party with the second largest representation in Parliament said the protests reflect “public distrust” in the electoral process and pervasive dissatisfaction with unjust government abuse.
“The Prosperous Armenia Party has been and will always be with the people. The Prosperous Armenia Party believes that it is the absolute right of every citizen of Armenia to demand respect for their rights, including the electoral right,” said the statement.
The Prosperous Armenia Party did not endorse allegations of voter fraud, nor did it claim Sarkisian to be the rightful winner of the elections. The party’s leader, businessman Gagik Tsarukian, did not put forth his candidacy for president and his party did not endorse any of the seven candidates running in the race.
The Prosperous Armenia Party’s statement also called for the government to exercise restraint toward protesters, warning that “any use of force against peaceful demonstrators would lead to irreversible consequences.” It also called on organizers and participants “to take their actions within the framework of the law.”
“The Prosperous Armenia Party thinks just like the people do,” party spokesperson spokesman, Tigran Urikhanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) when asked to specify its stance on the election conduct.
“The people have risen up today because of the impossibility of having elementary living conditions,” said Urikhanian. “People are expressing discontent and fury with the existing situation. This is what the Prosperous Armenia Party thinks.”
Students Protest ‘Vote Rigging’
Security was tightened at state-run universities in Yerevan Monday as more than 100 students boycotted classes and rallied outside universities to protest presidential election results.
The students urged other to join the boycott.
“We are calling on you to join this movement,” one of their leaders shouted through a megaphone outside Yerevan State University, the starting point of the protests.
“This [opposition] movement has no concrete political orientation, it’s everybody’s fight,” he said. “We all know well who won these elections. The people won these elections.”
Several students claimed that they have been warned by school administration officials that they risked dismissal in case of boycotting classes.
From Yerevan State University, the crowd marched to other state institutions whose entrances were blocked by security guards and in some instances riot police.
Hovannisian briefly joined the students and encouraged their actions.