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Defiant Opposition Denounces New Government


By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia’s two main opposition groups denounced on Thursday the sweeping government reshuffle as an illegitimate deal based on the results of deeply flawed elections.

The Artarutyun (Justice) alliance and the National Unity party claimed that President Robert Kocharian and three major parties supporting him do not represent the majority of Armenians and are only concerned with clinging to power.

“This is a deal that has nothing to do with the real results of the parliamentary elections,” Artarutyun leader Stepan Demirchian told RFE/RL, echoing the dominant mood in the opposition ranks.

The two opposition forces, which have only 25 of the 131 parliament seats, made separate decisions not to attend Thursday’s opening session of the National Assembly. Their leaders sounded indifferent to the formation of the parliament’s leadership agreed by Kocharian and his loyalists beforehand.

“It would be ridiculous to call all of this a democracy in action,” Artarutyun’s Aram Sarkisian said as he sipped ice tea at a café in Yerevan.

“They have turned the National Assembly into a theater,” said Aleksan Karapetian, the number two figure in National Unity. “Today’s session is just a formal procedure. People went there to press buttons.”

Aghasi Arshakian, an outspoken parliamentarian reelected on the National Unity ticket, went farther, condemning the power-sharing deal between the pro-Kocharian parties as a “plunder of government posts.” He also referred to the parliament’s newly elected speaker, Artur Baghdasarian, as a “young liar.”

Artarutyun and National Unity both reject the official results of this year’s parliamentary and presidential elections. The organizations two also have strained relations with each other that came to light in the run-up to the May 25 vote. With Artarutyun suspecting National Unity leader Artashes Geghamian of collaborating with the authorities, they are unlikely to coordinate their actions in the parliament.
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