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Major Party Quits Opposition Bloc


Armenia - Opposition leaders Levon Ter-Petrosian (R) and Aram Sarkisian lead a demonstration in Yerevan.

Armenia - Opposition leaders Levon Ter-Petrosian (R) and Aram Sarkisian lead a demonstration in Yerevan.

Citing deepening “strategic and tactical differences,” a major opposition party aligned in the Armenian National Congress (HAK) officially pulled out of the bloc headed by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Friday.

The Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party announced the decision following an hour-long meeting of its Political Council. A statement issued by the council did not specify its disagreements with the HAK leadership. The party chairman, Aram Sarkisian, refused talk to journalists after the meeting.

The move has been widely anticipated since Sarkisian, who ran for parliament on the HAK ticket, relinquished last week his seat in the newly elected National Assembly. He said that he and his political team disagreed, among other things, with Ter-Petrosian’s decision to cooperate with the governing Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) in the May 6 elections. He also said that Hanrapetutyun favored more radical HAK actions aimed at achieving “regime change” before the vote.

Levon Zurabian, who coordinates the HAK’s day-to-day activities, insisted on Friday that Hanrapetutyun never formally voiced strong objections to the bloc’s policies formulated by Ter-Petrosian. “We didn’t have any serious disagreements,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We never felt any tension.”

In any case, added Zurabian, the HAK, which will have 7 seats in the 131-member parliament, wishes Hanrapetutyun a “nice journey.”

In its written statement, Hanrapetutyun’s governing council referred to Armenia’s political leadership as a “regime that usurped power” and said it is ready to cooperate with political forces fighting for its downfall and “systemic changes” in the country.

“We could set up new formats for cooperation if need be,” Artak Zeynalian, a member of the council, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But for the moment we are deciding to end our membership in the HAK on our own, without having coordinated that decision with any political force.”

Asked about the possibility of Hanrapetutyun’s cooperation with Zharangutyun (Heritage), another major opposition party at odds with the HAK, Zeynalian said, “No such issue was discussed today.”

Zeynalian also declined to clarify if his extraparliamentary party plans to stage anti-government demonstrations soon or to field is own candidate for Armenia’s next presidential election due in February 2013.
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