By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday that his offer to form a new, more broad-based coalition government has met with a positive response from some of the Armenian opposition leaders who challenged him in last week’s presidential election.
In a speech at a Tuesday rally in Yerevan, Sarkisian said he is ready to defuse rising political tensions in Armenia by cutting a power-sharing deal with those “constructive” opposition forces that will recognize his victory in the disputed vote.
“There has already been reaction, readiness to cooperate from the opposition,” he told lawmakers the next day. “We began working on that today.”
In a separate conversation with journalists, Sarkisian declined to specify which opposition leaders have expressed readiness to cooperate with him. “It’s not one candidate,” he said. “There a few of them. They’ll talk about that.”
In his speech, Sarkisian did not say whether the offer applies to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, his main election challenger who has refused to concede defeat and is demanding a repeat presidential election. The president-elect accused Ter-Petrosian and his “aggressive grouping” of ignoring “the majority’s opinion” and seeking to seize power by illegal means.
Both Ter-Petrosian and his top allies were quick to rule out any deals with Armenia’s current leadership. “Either Serzhik or the people will leave this country,” the former president told supporters on Wednesday. “There can be no other way out.”
Sarkisian will find it easier to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with Artur Baghdasarian, another major opposition candidate who finished third in the presidential race. Baghdasarian said on Tuesday that the election was marred by serious violations but stopped short of rejecting Sarkisian’s victory as illegitimate. He promised to deliver his final election verdict by Thursday.
Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party was already part of Armenia’s governing coalition from 2003-2006.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), another major party that contested the vote, is already represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet by three ministers. Dashnaktsutyun leaders said this week that they are ready in principle to stay in government.
(Photolur photo: Sarkisian addresses supporters in Yerevan's Republic Square on Tuesday.)