By Ruben Meloyan
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian said on Friday that he supports the consolidation of opposition forces aligned to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian but believes their transformation into a single political party would be premature now.
Demirchian’s People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) is one over two dozen mostly small organization groups that supported Ter-Petrosian’s failed presidential bid and remain loyal to him. Speaking at a May 2 conference of those parties, Ter-Petrosian said that they should form an alliance and even suggested a name for it, the Armenian National Congress (HAK).
The ex-president said the HAK might eventually turn into a single party. Still, he stressed that his proposal is “tentative” and needs to be discussed in detail among his political allies.
“The idea of the Congress has yet to be discussed,” Demirchian told journalists when asked about his opinion on the issue. “Levon Ter-Petrosian himself said it is a preliminary proposal. So let’s not rush.”
“The consolidation of [opposition] forces is welcome,” he said. “As for the merger of parties, it is too early to talk about that. The HZhK, at least, has no such plans. That said, it would be right for parties with ideological similarities to unite.”
The HZhK was once the country’s largest opposition party and the dominant force in the now defunct Artarutyun alliance formed following the disputed presidential election of February-March 2003. Demirchian was then incumbent President Robert Kocharian’s main election challenger. His party has lost much of its clout and popularity since then, failing to win a single parliament seat in the May 2007 legislative elections.
In his last speech, Ter-Petrosian pledged to continue to challenge the legitimacy of Armenia’s current leadership but said his “popular movement” should avoid taking actions that could cause further political “upheavals” in the country.