The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) expressed readiness on Tuesday to endorse candidates that will be fielded by the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and other political forces challenging the government for upcoming local elections.
The elections are due to take place later this month and in September in virtually all local communities except Yerevan. Voters in the country’s second largest city of Gyumri as well as about a dozen towns will elect their mayors and municipal councils on September 9.
“We could back not only candidates from other political forces but also independent candidates if we see that our endorsement would somehow help to weaken the regime’s positions in Armenia,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK coordinator, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Asked whether those forces include the BHK, a member of the ruling coalition until recently, Zurabian said, “This applies to all forces that are ready to be an alternative to these authorities and to resist and revolt against these authorities.”
According to Zurabian, the HAK has not yet discussed the matter with those forces. “But I’m sure that there will be such negotiations,” he said, adding that the bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian will expect similar support for its own candidates. He also said that the HAK’s governing Political Council will discuss the bloc’s participation in the polls on Wednesday.
The BHK, the HAK and another major opposition group, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, cooperated in the run-up to the May 6 parliamentary elections. After the vote they jointly challenged the legitimacy of a landslide victory scored by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Naira Zohrabian, the secretary of the BHK’s parliamentary faction, the second largest in the new National Assembly, on Tuesday did not rule out the possibility of similar cooperation among the three forces in the local polls.
“I can’t confirm or rule out something because there have been no such discussions so far,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But we have always said that we are ready for much broader cooperation for the sake of our people.”
Ter-Petrosian stressed the importance of continued HAK-BHK cooperation and blasted opposition elements objecting to it in a speech at a rally in Yerevan last week.
The ruling HHK controls the vast majority of local governments in Armenia. It will be seeking to retain that control ahead of the next presidential election due in February.