Vote 2012: Inter-party election monitoring body convenes without Heritage

Vote 2012: Inter-party election monitoring body convenes without Heritage

Heritage party does not participate in the work of the inter-party headquarters set up by the opposition jointly with one of the three governing coalition members for oversight of the May 6 parliamentary elections. Nor does the opposition party led by independent Armenia’s first foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian get involved in the activities of an alternative body set up at the National Assembly.

The headquarters set up to preclude election fraud formally consists of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the Prosperous Armenia Party, the Armenian National Congress (ANC) alliance and Heritage. But on Wednesday Heritage boycotted the session of the joint headquarters, signaling that its conditions set to the other participants at the previous meeting had not been met.

The ruling Republican Party refused to join the initiative from the very beginning, reasoning that a similar structure had been set up at the National Assembly.

But Heritage demanded that the final version of the agreement be signed by the top party figures rather than the party representatives participating in the meetings. (At the meetings the delegates have been ARF Executive Council of Armenia Representative Armen Rustamyan, ANC coordinator Levon Zurabyan, ex-foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, who recently joined the PAP, and Heritage party deputy chairman Ruben Hakobyan).

Heritage also demanded that in signing the document the top party figures make a specific reference to provisions calling unacceptable the distribution of electoral bribes, collection of passports and making charity for votes in the pre-election period. Heritage’s demands appear to be mainly addressed to the PAP as it deems that if the PAP’s leader Gagik Tsarukyan signs the document, it will bring clarity to which side of the political fence his party stands – on the government’s or the opposition’s. Heritage representatives insist they will not take part in the work of the headquarters until their demands are met, but they do not speak about leaving the headquarters. Representatives of the other forces say setting preconditions is wrong, as they all had put their signatures to the document with delegated rights from the leaders of their organizations and with their knowledge.

After the meeting of the inter-party headquarters on Wednesday the PAP’s Oskanian cast doubts over Heritage’s commitment to holding free and fair elections.

“I have some doubts whether those who are not present in the headquarters really have the desire to hold free and fair elections,” he said.

Heritage representative Anahit Bakhshyan said the move to boycott the headquarters session was conditioned by circumstances primarily involving PAP.

“After all, we did not finalize the proposal on forming the joint headquarters because we know all too well what Prosperous Armenia has done in the parliament during the past five years. It has done everything to contribute to the economic policies that it vehemently criticizes today,” said Bakhshyan, emphasizing that to show its real concern about the situation in the country the PAP should quit the coalition, disavow its coalition memorandum and clearly state where it stands.

Heritage also indicated it will not participate in the work of the National Assembly chairman-affiliated advisory body set up for the oversight of the elections and the monitoring of the application of the Electoral Code, as it expressed doubts about the effectiveness of that body. Earlier, the ANC also refused to take part in the work of the National Assembly alternative body, stating that it did not trust the initiatives of the authorities.