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Opposition Finalizes Joint Manifesto


By Armen Zakarian

A loose coalition uniting 16 Armenian opposition groups finalized on Tuesday a joint pre-election manifesto which they hope will serve as the campaign platform of their possible presidential candidate.

A coordinating council of the opposition grouping publicized it after more than two hours of heated discussions held behind the closed doors. Some of the participants’ voices could be heard in an adjacent lobby at the headquarters of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK).

The 22-point document repeats traditional opposition accusations against the current authorities and promises a quick improvement of the difficult socioeconomic situation in the event of a regime change. The foreign policy section of the program calls for a “deepening of the allied relationship with Russia” and Armenia’s continued “integration into the European structures.”

The opposition parties agreed to hold a demonstration in Yerevan on October 27, the third anniversary of the parliament massacre which led to a radical change of Armenia’s political landscape. Some coalition members continue to suspect President Robert Kocharian of masterminding the killings and accuse him of sabotaging the official inquiry into their circumstances.

According to an HZhK spokeswoman, the opposition parties also agreed to instruct 28 deputies representing them in the parliament to take more “active actions” in the coming weeks. “Precisely what kind of actions will be discussed on Thursday,” she said.

But in a sign of persisting tensions inside the opposition camp, representatives of two key coalition members -- Artashes Geghamian’s National Unity and the Armenian Communist Party -- were conspicuously absent from the meeting. Geghamian has made it clear that he will not withdraw his presidential candidacy in support of any other opposition leader. The Communists are also expected to put forward their own candidate in any case.
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