Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian called on Monday for the consolidation of Armenia’s three leading opposition groups following what he described as “illegitimate” and “unfair” elections held in Yerevan on May 31.
Hovannisian also distanced himself from harsh criticism of the largest of those groups, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), voiced by two leading members of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.
While echoing the HAK allegations that the official vote results are fraudulent, Zharangutyun’s Armen Martirosian and Zaruhi Postanjian said on Friday that the opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian also bears responsibility for the ruling Republican Party’s landslide victory in the municipal polls. They said it shows that the HAK still not become an “established” political force.
Hovannisian was more cautious in his assessment of the HAK’s electoral performance, even if he agreed that the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance could have done better had it “organized its tactics correctly.” “Zaruhi and Armen belong to those citizens who have put their life, their health, their knowledge to the service of the democratic movement wholeheartedly and without any compensation,” he told reporters. “They have the right to express their opinions after so many months and years.”
Hovannisian said Zharangutyun, the HAK and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) should now put aside their differences and start “a series of consultations” aimed at creating a “new cooperation framework.”
“I think that cooperation is necessary,” he said. “I, for example, believe that both the HAK and Dashnaktsutyun are established forces and that it would be good if they … created a tradition of broader opposition collaboration.”
The HAK seems open to such cooperation. In a statement on Wednesday, it urged all “democratic political forces,” including Dashnaktsutyun, to join it in fighting for the “establishment of democracy” in Armenia. Dashnaktsutyun has not yet responded to the extraordinary call.
The nationalist party and the Ter-Petrosian camp have a long history of mutual antagonism. Dashnaktsutyun strongly opposed Armenia’s first post-Soviet government head by Ter-Petrosian from 1990-1998 and was controversially banned by the latter in 1994. It was also a major ally of Ter-Petrosian’s successor Robert Kocharian and, until recently, President Serzh Sarkisian.