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Armenian Official Rules Out Early Elections

Armenian Minister of Justice, Hrayr Tovmasian (centre right)
Armenian Minister of Justice, Hrayr Tovmasian (centre right)
YEREVAN -- Armenia's justice minister has dismissed opposition parties' demands for early elections to be held, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Hrayr Tovmasian said on May 20 that the country's next parliamentary and presidential elections will be held as planned in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

"I see no political, economic, or social grounds for preterm elections," Tovmasian told RFE/RL, echoing statements repeatedly made by senior officials in the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.

The holding of fresh elections is the key aim of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). It claims it is committed to forcing authorities to have early elections despite the HAK's plans to embark on a dialogue with President Serzh Sarkisian and his three-party ruling coalition.

"It is natural that the authorities are acting from such tough positions before starting negotiations," Levon Zurabian, the HAK's central office coordinator, said when commenting on Tovmasian's remarks.

"Everything depends on how active the people will be," Zurabian told RFE/RL. "No tough position can withstand pressure from a popular movement."

Opposition figures critical of the HAK and some political commentators say the opposition bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrossian is actually resigned to the fact that Sarkisian and the current parliament will serve out their five-year mandates.

They say the HAK is simply using the idea of snap elections to continue to galvanize its radical supporters demanding quick "regime change."

That the next national elections will be regular ones was also asserted today by Karapet Rubinian, a prominent politician who quit the HAK recently over serious differences with Ter-Petrossian and members of the ex-president's inner circle.

Rubinian predicted that the next parliament will also be controlled by Sarkisian.

"The logic of political developments suggests that everything will end in regular parliamentary elections [next year] where the toastmaster will again be the regime's leader, Serzh Sarkisian," he told reporters. "One can already predict how fair those elections will be and what results they will have."