By Karine Kalantarian
The Armenian opposition’s failure to choose a single leader was a key reason for its inability to unseat President Robert Kocharian with the recent campaign of demonstrations, one of its most prominent members said on Tuesday.
Former Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian said the Artarutyun alliance and the National Unity Party (AMK) would have attracted a larger following had they come up with a “clear charismatic leader.” Sarkisian, whose Hanrapetutyun party is an important component of Artarutyun, made it clear that they do have such a leader but did not name names. He was anxious not to openly stake a claim to that role or criticize his opposition allies, notably Artarutyun’s Stepan Demirchian and the AMK’s Artashes Geghamian.
The three men were the most important figures during the three-month opposition campaign of anti-Kocharian protests in Yerevan. Demirchian and Geghamian were also Kocharian’s main challengers in last year’s presidential election and enjoyed greater popularity than Sarkisian at least until recently. The ex-premier and his party are seen as the most radical and uncompromising opposition force. Hanrapetutyun was reportedly pushing last month for a repeat of the opposition’s ill-fated April 12 march towards the presidential palace. The promised “decisive action” was finally called off last week.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion of the political situation in the country, Sarkisian said the opposition failed to achieve its goal also because it faced a united front of pro-presidential parties, the security apparatus and other government agencies. But he claimed that the presidential camp is beginning to show cracks and will eventually collapse.
“I am deeply convinced that regime change is not a long way off,” he said. “I am only worried that the opposition may be late [in taking over from Kocharian].”