By Hrach Melkumian
The Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), the former ruling party, said on Tuesday it will not seek to join the newly formed coalition of 16 opposition parties, dismissing it as a shaky marriage of convenience. The HHSh claimed that some of those parties continue to secretly cooperate with the authorities despite their tough anti-government rhetoric.
“We have information that some of their leaders are in bed with the current authorities, and we are concerned that they are acting as a landmine planted inside the alliance,” Tigran Hakobian, the center-right party’s top election campaign strategist, told RFE/RL. He declined to specify which of the opposition figures allegedly maintain links with the current regime, however.
Many of the 16 parties that have pledged to put forward a single candidate against President Robert Kocharian were also in opposition to Armenia’s former HHSh-led leadership and remain highly critical of its top representatives, including former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. They all welcomed Ter-Petrosian’s February 1998 ouster at the hands of key government members led by Kocharian, the then prime minister.
Hakobian said the diverse opposition parties have little in common and their pre-election alliance can not be long-lasting. He said they should instead concentrate on working together to thwart vote rigging.
As recently as last month some members of Ter-Petrosian’s inner circle viewed at least several of the 16 parties, including Hanrapetutyun and the People’s Party (HZhK), as potential of the ex-president’s possible reelection bid. But Hanrapetutyun leaders ruled out such possibility last week, saying that the loose opposition grouping will try to field a presidential candidate from among its members. This fact made Ter-Petrosian’s participation in the February elections even more unlikely.
Hakobian indirectly confirmed that when he noted that Ter-Petrosian, who continues to be revered by the HHSh, will rely on a “fairly broad range” of opposition forces if he decides to run in the polls.