YEREVAN — Campaigning has officially begun for Armenia’s May 6 parliamentary elections, with most of the main contenders unveiling their electoral manifestos during rallies and indoor gatherings.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has already made clear its intention to win the vote by a landslide and put its leader on course to win a second term in office next year.
The ruling coalition junior partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), kicked off its campaign on Sunday with a rally held in Abovian, a town about 15 kilometers north of Yerevan.
Armenia’s main opposition groups already have expressed concerns about the accuracy of Armenia’s official vote registers, saying that the authorities have inflated them to rig the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Opposition groups in particular claim that the authorities are planning to have bribed citizens cast fraudulent ballots marked for the Republican Party in place of hundreds of thousands of Armenian nationals living abroad. Former president Levon Ter-Petrosian has said that there are currently as many as 700,000 absent voters.
In an elections related development, Meruzhan Mkhoyan, an independent election candidate has pulled out of the Armenian parliamentary race after being injured in a reported attack which his family blames on his main rival backed by ruling Republican Party.
Mkhoyan’s relatives confirmed on Monday that he withdrew his candidacy from a single-mandate constituency in the southern Armavir region because of the assault. “They were telling us, ‘Drop out or we’ll hurt your kids,” his wife told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), referring to local loyalists of HHK candidate and businessman Aleksan Petrosian.
According to his family, Mkhoyan was kidnapped from his house in the regional capital Armavir and driven to a nearby village cemetery by a group of men early on Friday. The incident is said to have degenerated into a mass brawl after the candidate’s friends and male relatives rushed to his aid moments later.
Mkhoyan and his cousin Mushegh were taken to an Armavir hospital later on Friday. Doctors there said the election candidate suffered a concussion.