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Cracks Emerge In Opposition Bloc


Armenia - Samvel Harutiunian, a dissident member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, at a news conference, 6Mar2012.

Armenia - Samvel Harutiunian, a dissident member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, at a news conference, 6Mar2012.

Four small political groups aligned in the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) announced on Tuesday that they will boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections because of “serious disagreements” with the bloc’s leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and his entourage.

They said they are thus protesting against other HAK leadership’s decision to authorize Ter-Petrosian to single-handedly draw up the list of HAK candidates for the May 6 elections. One of them also criticized Ter-Petrosian’s reluctance to campaign for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation with more radical actions.

The announcement followed weeks of media reports about differences within the bloc over the composition of that list. HAK representatives denied such discord.

Still, the 18 parties and other organizations making up the alliance clearly failed to agree on a mutually acceptable formula. Ter-Petrosian said on Friday that the HAK’s governing board has assigned him to draw up the electoral slate on his own.

Samvel Harutiunian, the leader of the Armenian Alliance of Volunteers, one of the four dissenting groups, said he “felt offended” by that decision. “What is better? To make a collective decision or to allow one person [to draw up the list] no matter how worthy he is? I am categorically against [the latter option,]” he told a joint news conference, also speaking on behalf of the National Revival, Fatherland and Honor, and Christian Democratic Rebirth parties.

Harutiunian claimed that 13 groups affiliated with the bloc reached consensus on the issue but that it was scuttled by other HAK forces, notably the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) party. He suggested that Ter-Petrosian could have prevented the alleged HHSh obstruction.

Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, reacted cautiously to the announced boycott. “The Armenian National Congress has always respected the positions of the parties affiliated with it,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He declined to comment further.

The Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, a larger and more influential HAK member, last week signaled its disappointment with the election-related squabbles when it said that its leader Aram Sarkisian will be the sole Hanrapetutyun member to be included on the HAK’s electoral list.
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