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New Armenian Opposition Bloc On Cards


Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian (C) presides over a congress of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party in Yerevan, 2Mar2012.

Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian (C) presides over a congress of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party in Yerevan, 2Mar2012.

Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian appeared to have moved closer on Friday to forming an electoral alliance with a new opposition party led by former prominent member of the Armenian National Congress (HAK).

Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) party and the Free Democrats party have negotiated on the possibility of such a bloc in recent weeks. Hovannisian said last month that Zharangutyun will announce a final decision at its congress on March 2.

The congress made no such announcement, however, leaving it to the party’s governing board to decide whether to team up with Free Democrats for the May 6 parliamentary elections. The board meeting on the issue is scheduled for March 18.

“We welcome our prospective cooperation with the Free Democrats party and hope … that it will have a long-term continuation,” Hovannisian said in a speech at the congress.

Free Democrats leaders attending the gathering implied that the alliance with Zharangutyun is a done deal. “That cooperation already exists and very soon everyone will probably be informed that the alliance of Zharangutyun and Free Democrats is going to be formed. Everything else is just technical issues,” one of them, Ararat Zurabian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Hovannisian sounded more cautious, however. “There is no decision yet,” the U.S.-born politician told journalists.

Zurabian and other leading members of the new opposition party split from the HAK last year. Among them is Alexander Arzumanian, a former foreign minister who managed HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 presidential election campaign.

In his speech, Hovannisian also stressed the importance of Zharangutyun’s cooperation with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the other opposition party represented in the outgoing parliament. He said his party will also seek “common ground” with Ter-Petrosian’s HAK in the run-up to the elections.
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