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By Ruzanna Khachatrian

The Right and Accord bloc, one of the main opposition groups in the Armenian parliament, and its allies will launch a nationwide campaign for the ouster of President Robert Kocharian, the bloc’s leader Artashes Geghamian announced on Thursday. In a first strongly-worded attack on Kocharian, Geghamian said he will form a broad coalition of opposition forces to try to initiate impeachment proceedings in the parliament next fall.

“As long as Robert Kocharian is the president of the republic there will be no improvement in the situation in Armenia,” Geghamian told a press conference. He charged that Kocharian’s political support base is just “a bunch of ministers who have a criminal past and are liable for criminal prosecution.”

Geghamian’s bloc is one of several opposition groups which have been in talks lately on the possibility of forming an anti-presidential alliance. His most likely allies are the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party of former prime minister Aram Sarkisian and the National Accord Front of Ashot Manucharian. According to Manucharian, the creation of the alliance is a forgone conclusion.

But Geghamian was more cautious in his predictions, saying that he is still working on a joint opposition platform. He expressed his full support to the leadership of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) which has accused Kocharian of conspiring to break up the HZhK.

Geghamian and other opposition leaders hope to win over the popular center-left party. But the HZhK’s chairman, Stepan Demirchian, has so far avoided a final rupture with the Republican Party of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. Still, most of the remaining HZhK deputies of the parliament have already embraced the idea of a united opposition front against the authorities. One of them, Aramayis Barseghian, said on Thursday “all sound forces” should team up to bring about fresh presidential elections.

The Armenian constitution states that the head of state can be removed from office only if convicted of high treason and “other grave crimes.” Geghamian, who has consistently denounced the government’s economic policy approved by Western financial institutions, claimed that Kocharian’s failure to improve the economic situation is a serious offense. “Damage caused to Armenian statehood is tantamount to high treason,” he said.
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