An Armenian opposition leader has accused his political partner of publicly lying, effectively calling into question the further existence of their alliance formed in the run-up to last May’s parliamentary elections.
Raffi Hovannisian, the founder and current head of the opposition Heritage party, on Friday stood by his statement made earlier this month that he renounced his parliamentary mandate based on the understanding that the leader of an allied party would follow suit.
Hovannisian’s resignation as a member of parliament was confirmed on October 2, while Khachatur Kokobelian, the leader of the Free Democrats Party, which contested the latest elections to the National Assembly on the Heritage list and entered the legislature along with another member of his party, refused to give up his seat, invoking a case of “misunderstanding” over the matter.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday Kokobelian denied having any arrangements with Hovannisian
about renouncing their seats in the parliament together “to give more space to the young.” He said, however, the Free Democrats Party remained committed to other “long-term” agreements with Heritage that also included backing Hovannisian’s possible bid in next year’s presidential election.
In a statement spread by his party on Friday Hovannisian voiced his regret over Kokobelian “divulging his recurrent lie.”
“I particularly feel sorry for those promising young people from Free Democrats and Heritage and the public sector who fully devoted themselves to the election campaign,” said Hovannisian.
“The joint struggle was not a mistake. It was a novelty, perhaps somewhat risky, but still solid and future-oriented. The error is the lie of one person,” he added.
Meanwhile, late on Friday the Free Democrats leader, in his turn, voiced regret over Hovannisian’s “emotional” statement that he said was rather made “on the spur of the moment”.
“Being part of the same faction does not at all mean that matters pertaining to the mandates of an independent political force can be decided single-handedly by another individual,” said Kokobelian, according to his party’s press service. “I regret that all our efforts on forming an opposition bloc are being consistently dispersed with unclear motivations.”
It was not immediately clear after these statements whether representatives of Free Democrats and Heritage would remain within the same five-member faction in the Armenian National Assembly.