By Siranuysh Gevorgyan

01.06.12 | 12:02

As Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) leader Gagik Tsarukyan was
conspicuously absent from the first session of the new National
Assembly on May 31, members of his political team hurried to give
assurances that the heavyweight politician wasn't boycotting, but
was simply unable to attend due to being "overly busy" with his work.

"But rest assured that later Tsarukyan will attend the sessions
by all means," PAP faction secretary Naira Zohrabyan explained to
RFE/RL's Armenian Service in parliament, adding that the previous
night Tsarukyan was giving them a spirited pep talk, wishing them
fruitful work and urging them to be active and "join all initiatives
that meet people's interests regardless of what political power
presents these initiatives."

Still, the absence of Tsarukyan, a millionaire businessman whose
party won the second largest presence in the National Assembly as
a result of the May 6 vote, looked noticeable against the backdrop
of the high presence of President Serzh Sargsyan, Catholicos of
All Armenians Karekin II, all members of the government in which
Tsarukyan's party had four ministers in the past several years. The
PAP no longer holds ministerial portfolios after refusing to join
President Sargsyan's majority Republican Party and Orinats Yerkir in
forming a new ruling coalition.

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, who joined the PAP
in February and conducted a parliamentary campaign on a platform highly
critical of the current administration, advised that media should not
look for "something" in Tsarukyan's absence from the first parliament
meeting, saying, "It wasn't convenient for him, so he didn't come."

Still, considering the fact that Tsarukyan is the head of the PAP
faction and at least formally being a lawmaker should be his primary
occupation, as well as the high solemnity and status of the first
gathering of the parliament, some media construed Tsarukyan's absence
as a kind of message addressed to the Republicans, a message that
does not appear to have been deciphered just yet.

Simultaneously, the first session of the new National Assembly was
not attended by the seven lawmakers representing the opposition
Armenian National Congress (ANC) and five members of the opposition
Heritage faction. Members of these political forces did not attend the
ceremony of picking mandates held at the Central Election Commission
the previous day either.

In a statement the ANC explained its boycott of the first session,
saying that the majority of the lawmakers attending it "are not
elected by the people of Armenia, but got their mandates illegally,
through widespread vote buying, intimidation of voters, large-scale
repeated ballot schemes."

The same day, May 31, the Constitutional Court of Armenia upheld the
official results announced by the election body, rejecting the ANC's
lawsuit that demanded the invalidation of the elections.

Talking about these latest "demarches" by the political forces,
analyst Yervand Bozoyan says that, for example, by not appearing in
parliament on the first day of its work Tsarukyan in fact meant to
show that he wasn't satisfied with how the elections went on.

"The ANC, for example, applied to the Constitutional Court to challenge
the election results. Heritage stated that it did not accept the
results of the elections, the PAP, while not making any assessments,
still decided not to join the coalition. So, each political force,
besides Orinats Yerkir and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation,
is trying to show its displeasure in its own way. And I think
that Tsarukyan's absence exactly highlights this circumstance,"
said Bozoyan.

Political analyst Manvel Sargsyan, meanwhile, said he was baffled at
such behavior of the PAP leader.

"So far opinions have repeatedly been voiced that the PAP owes
explanations to society, as for two weeks after the elections there
were negotiations with the authorities and it was not clear what
they were all about... his position is a bit unclear as in reality
they do not behave independently, we know that yesterday all of them
[PAP faction members] voted in favor of [Republican] Hovik Abrahamyan
[to become parliament speaker]. So, Tsarukyan's behavior is unclear
to me," said Sargsyan.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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