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Opposition Party Warns Of Parliament Exit


Armenia -- Zaruhi Postanjian (L) and Armen Martirosian, leaders of the opposition Zharangutyun party, hold a news confrence on 05Jun2009.

Armenia -- Zaruhi Postanjian (L) and Armen Martirosian, leaders of the opposition Zharangutyun party, hold a news confrence on 05Jun2009.

Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of a major Armenian opposition party, has decided to end his membership in the country’s parliament, a senior party source said on Monday.

Hovannisian announced through aides on Monday that he has decided to end his membership of the National Assembly. Neither he, nor other party figures have given a clear explanation for the move yet.

Armen Martirosian, the nominal head of Zharangutyun’s parliamentary faction, attributed it to “personal reasons stemming from critical national issues” such as the ongoing Turkish-Armenian dialogue and a lack of democracy in the country. He declined to elaborate, saying that Hovannisian will himself explain his decision in detail soon.

When asked by RFE/RL whether he and the five other Zharangutyun deputies could also abandon their parliament seats, Martirosian said, “Right now such an issue is not being discussed. But nothing can be ruled out in politics.”

“We can’t rule out anything, from a surrender of our mandates to possible political regroupings,” said Stepan Safarian, another Zharangutyun lawmaker. He said such moves would be the result of President Serzh Sarkisian’s readiness to make what Zharangutyun sees as unacceptable concessions to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Zharangutyun already threatened late last year and early this to boycott parliament sessions and even surrender its seven parliament mandates if the Armenian authorities fail to release dozens of arrested opposition members and engage in dialogue with the opposition. The party’s governing Council discussed the issue in late February and decided not to walk out of the government-controlled legislature.
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