During a discussion on establishing a team of representatives of various political parties to publicly oversee the elections, four political parties — the Armenian National Congress (HAK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun, or ARF-D), Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Heritage Party — came to an agreement and signed a statement on creating a team together. Galust Sahakyan, representing the Republic Party of Armenia, refused to sign the statement, explaining his decision first by saying that a representative from the Rule of Law (Orinats Yerkir) party should’ve been invited to the discussion. Furthermore, according to him, there is already such a team in parliament, which will work more effectively since any issue in parliament will become hearings and not only assessments will be made.
HAK representative Levon Zurabyan (pictured) urged those gathered to sign HAK’s letter addressed to RA Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan.
“I welcome us all, that political parties were able to stand above their narrow political interests and agreed to work together on preventing electoral fraud. As a gesture of good will, I ask you also to sign our letter addressed to RA Police Chief Vova Gasparyan, with which we’re asking him to provide a list of citizens included on voter lists but who are permanently out of the country. Dashnaktsutyun already signed it,” he said, adding that there’s no need to prolong the matter since very little time is left.
Former foreign minister of Armenia and new BHK member Vartan Oskanian suggested they deal with the letter at the group’s next meeting. “We won’t sign it. If we discuss it now and reject it, the press will write that the [inter-party] team began unsuccessfully, and a shadow will be cast on our future productivity.” Heritage Party representative Ruben Hakobyan also shared Oskanian’s view.
Recall, the police has refused to provide a list of citizens absent from the country, explaining that it doesn’t possess such information. According to Zurabyan, this explanation is untrue since a census was recently held and information was collected from households on their residents.
The opposition bloc has grounds to suspect that around 700,000 people listed on voter lists do not live in the country. Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) Supreme Council representative Armen Rustamyan, who earlier signed the letter to the police chief, said that his party proposed including publicizing the list of those absent from the country into the Electoral Code during parliamentary discussions of the new code.
Speaking to reporters after the discussion, Zurabyan said the Republican Party of Armenia’s refusal to sign the statement was quite normal and positive. “To fight electoral fraud with HHK means to try to solve a murder with a murderer,” he said.
Oskanian, evaluating the possible effectiveness of the newly created team, said that the team can only make note of violations, but to have truly fair elections, according to Oskanian, the Republican Party of Armenia has to be convinced, to have political will and have normal elections for the first time in 20 years.