STRASBOURG — Armenia could face a new bout of political upheaval if its government fails to hold “genuinely democratic” elections and implement other reforms, according to two senior representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).
The PACE’s co-rapporteurs for Armenia, John Prescott and Axel Fischer, have also renewed their calls for the release of all Armenian opposition members remaining in prison.
The two men issued the warning late last week as they briefed the PACE’s Monitoring Committee on their recent fact-finding visit to Yerevan .
“The successful conduct of the [next] elections is essential for the normalization of the situation and democratic consolidation of Armenia,” they said in an “information note” submitted to the panel.
“The current status quo with regard to reforms, combined with the ongoing political polarization and the deteriorating social and economic environment, could potentially lead to renewed social unrest if unaddressed and not followed by genuinely democratic elections,” they warned.
Prescott and Fischer stood by their view that the continuing imprisonment of several supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, who were arrested in connection with the 2008 unrest in Yerevan, continues to “poison the political environment in Armenia.” They said it could also have a “negative impact” on parliamentary elections due in May 2012.
The most prominent of these detainees are former parliament deputy Sasun Mikaelian and Nikol Pashinian, the editor of the opposition daily “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
The PACE co-rapporteurs described their detention as the “main impediment for the normalization of the political situation.” They complained that the Armenian authorities are “not willing to demonstrate any leniency towards these two persons.”
The full PACE is not expected to discuss the political situation in Armenia before its autumn session in September.

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