By Astghik Bedevian
Opposition leader Artur Baghdasarian is discussing with Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian the possibility of joining a new coalition government which Armenia’s president-elect has pledged to form after taking office, a pro-government lawmaker said on Thursday.
Sarkisian has offered to defuse rising political tensions in Armenia by cutting a power-sharing deal with those “constructive” opposition forces that will recognize his victory in last week’s disputed presidential election. He said on Wednesday that several of his election challengers have responded positively to the offer.
In the words of Eduard Sharmazanov, a parliament deputy and spokesman for Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), those include Baghdasarian and his Orinats Yerkir Party. “We are now discussing that with Orinats Yerkir as well,” he told reporters.
According to the government-controlled Central Election Commission, Baghdasarian won over 16 percent of the vote, trailing both Sarkisian and the main opposition candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. The former parliament speaker on Tuesday described the February 19 vote as deeply flawed but stopped short of challenging the legitimacy of Sarkisian’s victory. He promised to ascertain his and his party’s position by Thursday.
Baghdasarian and other Orinats Yerkir leaders were meeting late in the evening to discuss their next steps. An Orinats Yerkir spokeswoman said their decision will be submitted to the party’s larger governing board which is scheduled to meet on Friday. She did not deny that the issue of teaming up with Sarkisian is on the agenda of the discussions.
Orinats Yerkir Party was already a member of Armenia’s governing coalition from 2003-2006.