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Leftist Armenian Parties In Talks Over New Bloc


By Armen Zakarian

Armenia's leading left-wing opposition parties are discussing the possibility of forming a big alliance ahead of the approaching local, presidential and parliamentary elections, it was announced on Tuesday.

According to Aram Sarkisian, leader of the small Democratic Party, the negotiations were initiated by the Communist Party (HKK) and the Socialist Armenia bloc. He said other opposition heavyweights such as the People's Party (HZhK), Hanrapetutyun and the National Accord party led by Artashes Geghamian, an outspoken oppositionist, are also taking part in the discussions.

Speaking at a news conference, Sarkisian said the parties are now trying to ascertain their mutual obligations stemming from the formation of what would be a strong opposition bloc. They may soon form a "shadow cabinet," he added.

Most of the leftist groups in question are already involved in a loose grouping of 13 opposition parties with differing political orientations. It was created last April following the closure of the independent A1+ channel. Its members have pledged to try to agree on a single candidate who would challenge President Robert Kocharian in next February's presidential elections. But there have been no signs of such an agreement yet.

So far, leaders of the HZhK, Hanrapetutyun and National Accord have not publicly expressed an intention to join forces with the Communists.
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