After nearly two weeks of silence, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian has condemned as “unacceptable” and pledged to intervene in a bitter dispute between senior members of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.
But Hovannisian, who formally holds no positions in the party hierarchy despite being its de facto top leader, did not explain his surprise decision to resign from Armenia’s parliament, which appears to have precipitated the damaging turmoil.
The resignation, revealed to the media on September 7, was followed by the expulsion from the party ranks of three senior Zharangutyun figures, including a parliament deputy and a member of the Central Election Commission. The latter accused the party’s nominal chairman, Armen Martirosian, of foul play and secret collaboration with the Armenian authorities.
Martirosian and his allies, which dominate Zharangutyun’s decision-making board, have rejected the accusations. They also claim that the dissidents acted on orders issued by both the government and the country’s largest opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
In a statement circulated on Monday, Hovannisian refrained from taking sides in the row, seemingly blaming both factions for the “mudslinging” and castigating unnamed individuals motivated by “petty personal interests.” “Of course, as the party’s founder, I bear a share of the blame, but at issue today is collective responsibility or rather, the way I see it, collective irresponsibility,” he said.
“I think that as one of the leading forces, Zharangutyun will find a way of sorting out this situation. But if it fails to do that before the end of this month, I myself will solve the problem,” warned Hovannisian.
Hovannisian did not elaborate, saying only that the party has come to be an important “center of gravitation” in Armenia’s political life that needs to be preserved. Incidentally, he is scheduled to hold a news conference on October 1.
The popular politician also warned other opposition and pro-government forces from attempting to exploit Zharangutyun’s troubles. “Let nobody from our opposition partners and governing parties think that they are sinless, that they have a monopoly [on truth,] that they are the only alternative,” he said.