By Hrach Melkumian
The Right and Accord bloc, a leading Armenian opposition force, is likely to fall apart before the next parliamentary elections due to deepening disagreements between two parties that form it, one of its leaders said on Saturday. Hrant Khachatrian told reporters that his nationalist Union for Constitutional Rights (SIM) will almost certainly contest the 2003 elections without its partner, the National Accord party.
Right and Accord made a stronger-than-expected showing in the previous polls, winning eight seats in the 131-member National Assembly. The result was widely attributed to the populist appeal of National Accord leader Artashes Geghamian, a virulent critic of the government’s economic policy.
Relations between the two partners began to deteriorate last year as Geghamian toughened his criticism of Robert Kocharian. His attempts to form an alliance with the much bigger People’s Party of Armenia were publicly criticized by SIM leaders.
Right and Accord has also been the principal support base in Armenia of General Samvel Babayan, the jailed former commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh army.