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Opposition Party Pledges Greater Independence


Armenia -- Hovsep Khurshudian (L) and another senior member of the opposition Zhanragutyun party, Zaruhi Postanjian, hold a news conference on August 4, 2009.

Armenia -- Hovsep Khurshudian (L) and another senior member of the opposition Zhanragutyun party, Zaruhi Postanjian, hold a news conference on August 4, 2009.

The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian said on Tuesday that it has decided to act more independently in the political arena after failing to get Armenia’s leading opposition forces to join forces.

“We believe that every opposition political force should independently decide its tactics and take its actions,” Hovsep Khurshudian, the chief party spokesman, told a news conference. He said that opposition parties do not need to rally around a single leader at this stage in their struggle against the Armenian government.

The announcement came just two months after Hovannisian called for the consolidation of the country’s three largest opposition groups. Speaking in the wake of a poor opposition showing in the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan, he said Zharangutyun, the Armenian National Congress (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.”

The HAK’s top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, also made a case for opposition unity, expressing readiness to cooperate with Dashnaktsutyun, his longtime bitter rival. Dashnaktsutyun leaders have effectively ruled out such cooperation, however.

Khurshudian noted that Zharangutyun is still awaiting a response to its offers. “We proposed to start negotiations and hold discussions, but there must also be readiness on their part,” he said. “We have already expressed our readiness.”

Zharangutyun supported Ter-Petrosian in the February 2008 presidential election and strongly condemned the government’s post-election crackdown on his opposition movement. But it declined to form an alliance with the HAK ahead of the Yerevan polls.

The HAK declined to comment on Zharangutyun’s latest statement. “We have nothing to report to the public in that regard,” said Levon Zurabian, a senior member of the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance.
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