By Anna Saghabalian
The only opposition party represented in Armenia’s parliament said on Monday that it will decide this week whether to join a new, more tightly knit, opposition alliance which is being set up by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian was among over two dozen opposition groups that endorsed Ter-Petrosian’s candidacy in the recent presidential election. It has since been loosely affiliated with his Popular Movement, actively campaigning for an end to the Armenian government’s post-election crackdown on the opposition.
Ter-Petrosian said in May that the movement should have a more clearly defined organizational structure and suggested that it be named the Armenian National Congress (HAK). He said it might eventually transform itself into a single political party. The ex-president and his entourage are expected to announce the formation of the new alliance at their next rally scheduled for August 1.
Zharangutyun’s board discussed the matter at a meeting on Monday. “The board decided to form a commission that will ask the initiating group of the Armenian National Congress to clarify and ascertain a number of issues,” its deputy chairman, Movses Aristakesian, said. He said those issues relate to the HAK’s program, structure and decision-making mechanisms. The board will meet again and make a final decision on Thursday, added Aristakesian.
Addressing a Zharangutyun congress on July 11, Ter-Petrosian lavished praise on Hovannisian’s party and said he is confident that it will become “one of the pillars” of the HAK.
According to Aristakesian, Zharangutyun agrees with the key objectives of Ter-Petrosian’s movement but is keen to retain its independence. A party spokesman, Hovsep Khurshudian, said some Zharangutyun leaders are against joining the HAK. “There are views that not joining the [congress] would actually be good for the Popular Movement and Zharangutyun,” he said.
He would not say if Hovannisian shares those views.
(Photolur photo: Zharangutyun members meet for a congress on July 11.)