By Armen Zakarian
The Kayunutyun (Stability) parliamentary group, a member of the governing coalition, teetered on the edge of collapse on Wednesday following the decision by one of its members to leave its ranks. The deputy, Hakob Hakobian, said he is leaving the group over disagreements with its ambitious chairman, Vartan Ayvazian.
He accused Ayvazian of plotting the dismissal of Minister of Environment Murad Muradian, a former lawmaker affiliated with Kayunutyun, “in order to get his job.” Speaking at a news conference, Hakobian claimed that Ayvazian is placing his political ambitions above Kayunutyun interests, a charge denied by the latter.
Vartan Ayvazian, rumored to be eyeing ministerial post
“The allegations that Kayunutyun is not trying to stand by its minister are baseless,” Ayvazian told RFE/RL later in the day. However, he did not deny rumors that he will soon replace Muradian as the Kayunutyun representative in the cabinet.
Hakobian’s departure leaves Kayunutyun with only ten deputies, the minimum number of members a non-partisan parliamentary group must comprise in order to have an official status in the National Assembly. Ayvazian will have to hand in his parliamentary mandate if he joins the government, a move that would spell an end to the group’s existence.
As recently as late last year Kayunutyun was the second-largest force in the parliament with 23 deputies. Their support was essential for the passage of government bills -- the reason why it is represented in the cabinet. But its political weight declined rapidly after the defection of 12 of its members to the newly formed People’s Deputy group, which also brings together non-partisan lawmakers.