Armenian elections: one out, and seven left (but one is on hunger strike and another in hospital recovering from an assassination attempt).

One of the candidates in the Armenian presidential elections formally withdrew from the race on 8 February. The Central Elections Commission duly accepted his withdrawal and cancelled his candidature.  Aram Harutyunyan call for the other six candidates challenging incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan to withdraw from the race has not so far been heeded.

However the situation is far from usual. One other Presidential contender Andreas Ghukasyan has been on hunger strike since the election campaign formally kicked off. Attempts to get him to stop the hunger strike have so far failed. Ghukasyan is protesting against the electoral process which he says is flawed and is asking the Central Elections Commission to bar Sargsyan from the poll.

A third presidential candidate, Pruyur Hayrikyan is in hospital recovering from an assissantation attempt on him a week ago. His medical situation was reported to have deteriorated in the last days and he has been asked by doctors not to leave the hospital bed despite successful surgery on him on Saturday. The Armenian Ministry of National Security has reported that it has arrested two suspects in connection with the assassination attempt. More…

Assassination attempt casts shadow over Armenian election.


President Serzh Sargsyan visiting Paruyr Hayrikyan in hospital on 2 February 2013.

President Serzh Sargsyan visiting Paruyr Hayrikyan in hospital on 2 February 2013.

On Friday evening, 1 February a gunmen shot and wounded Armenian Presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan casting a shadow on what had so far been a lacklustre election campaign. Hayrikyan is not one of the front runners in the campaign, but is a respected and recognised figure in Armenian society. He was a dissident in Soviet times and served time in prison for his political views. Hayrikyan was operated on the following day and a bullet removed from his shoulder and is now recovering satisfactorily.

The assassination attempt however reminded Armenians of the level of violence in their political life in recent years. In October 1999 several senior members of the Armenian government were killed in cold blood in an incident inside the Armenian Parliament. They included the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament. In 2008 eleven people died in incidents on the streets of Yerevan as protestors questioned the results of the last Presidential election which brought the current incumbent Serzh Sargsyan to power. Such violence in a country of such a small size and which is monoethnic is unprecedented and has left the Armenian body politic scarred. Big questions remain around both the 1999 incident in the Armenian parliament and the 2008 street protests, and the assassination attempt against Hayrikyan is likely to be added to the list adding to speculation of sinister forces at work. More…

The credibility of Armenia’s Presidential election is still in the balance.

Presidential candidate starts his campaign with a hunger strike.

Presidential candidate starts his campaign with a hunger strike.

With less than four weeks left before the Presidential Election in Armenia on February 18th the credibility of the whole process remains in the balance as an unusual situation develops with several of the eight candidates refusing to campaign, or announcing their withdrawal.

This election from the start did not look as if it was going to proceed according to normal practices. A number of leading contenders and key political forces declared their non-participation some time ago. Some hoped that this will open the way for new faces. But those that emerged do not seem to be playing by the traditional rules. More…