Two major Armenian opposition parties on Monday effectively completed the break-up of a political alliance that was formed by them ahead of last May’s parliamentary elections.
The Zharangutyun (Heritage) and Free Democrats parties said their joint 5-member faction in Armenia’s 131-seat parliament will exist on only paper from now on.
The announcements came after weeks of scathing attacks launched by Zharangutyun on Khachatur Kokobelian, the Free Democrats chairman holding one of those parliament seats. Zharangutyun leader Raffi Hovannisian and his associates accuse Kokobelian of reneging on what they say was a pre-election agreement to resign from the new National Assembly and cede the seat to another member of their bloc.
Hovannisian cited the purported agreement after resigning his own parliament seat early this month. Kokobelian has denied the existence of such a deal, saying that Zharangutyun claims to the contrary result from a “misunderstanding.” Hovannisian has responded by accusing his opposition partner of lying.
Kokobelian and Alexander Arzumanian, another leader of the Free Democrats, on Monday met with the three parliament deputies representing Zharangutyun to discuss the row. “While formally remaining members of the faction, I and Alexander Arzumanian will now be representing only the Free Democrats,” Kokobelian told journalists after the meeting. He refused to comment on the reasons for the development.
A separate statement issued by the Free Democrats said the party regrets the failure of its “efforts to preserve the alliance.”
According to official results of the parliamentary elections, the two parties jointly won just over 5 percent of the vote, just enough to win representation in the National Assembly under the proportional representation system. Hovannisian was expected to be their candidate in the February 2013 presidential election.
Kokobelian claimed that the Free Democrats may still back Hovannisian’s anticipated presidential bid. But speaking about the forthcoming election, he also said, “I don’t exclude that our party will discuss other, new approaches.”