By Astghik Bedevian
Armenia’s two largest opposition forces will resume negotiations on the possibility of jointly contesting the forthcoming municipal elections in Yerevan, a close associate of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Thursday.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of Raffi Hovannisian held talks on Monday but failed to agree on who should lead their would-be list of candidates to a municipal council that will choose the Armenian capital’s next mayor. The assembly will be elected by city residents on May 31 under the system of proportional representation.
The HAK nominated Ter-Petrosian’s candidacy, while Zharangutyun insisted that the list should be topped by Armen Martirosian, its young parliamentary leader. According to Vahagn Khachatrian, a senior member of the HAK, they may still reach an agreement.
“Of course there are still possibilities of an agreement, and of course the doors have not been shut yet,” he said. “Both the HAK and Zharangutyun have no problem with cooperating with each other. I think they will hold negotiations on the joint list and find common ground.”
A spokesman for Zharangutyun argued on Wednesday that many Yerevan voters are opposed to both Ter-Petrosian and the establishment candidate Gagik Beglarian and that the opposition should therefore nominate a “new and young figure” like Martirosian. Hovsep Khurshudian also complained that the HAK did not consult with his party before approving Ter-Petrosian’s candidacy.
Khachatrian, who had served as Yerevan mayor in the mid-1990s, dismissed these statements, saying that only Ter-Petrosian is capable of turning the municipal elections into a real “political struggle.” He reaffirmed the HAK’s intention to use the polls for forcing fresh presidential and parliamentary elections in Armenia.
Khachatrian claimed that “economic, social and political developments” in the country will lead to the holding of snap national elections by the beginning of next year.