The Armenian National Congress (HAK) should stop “concentrating” on a possible electoral alliance with businessman Gagik Tsarukian and nominate its own presidential candidate instead, a senior member of the opposition alliance said on Tuesday.
Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian again voiced serious misgivings about the HAK’s overtures to Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a former member of the country’s governing coalition that now has the second largest parliamentary faction.
“I have even told our comrades, ‘If you want to do a normal job, do it. Why do you keep concentrating on the BHK? Why do you tell the public about that all the time?’” Bagratian told a news conference.
“In this sense, we may have gone a bit too far. In the end, it could turn out that everything was shallow,” he said, seemingly questioning the BHK’s opposition credentials.
The HAK and its top leader Levon Ter-Petrosian have courted the BHK over the past year. Levon Zurabian, a close Ter-Petrosian associate, said last month that the two political groups should join forces to unseat President Serzh Sarkisian in the upcoming presidential election.
Zurabian has since pointedly declined to rule out the possibility of HAK endorsement of a BHK presidential candidate. Other senior HAK figures, including Bagratian, have spoken out against this option.
Bagratian, who is one of the HAK’s seven parliament deputies, declared on Tuesday that Ter-Petrosian’s bloc will face self-destruction if it fails to field its own presidential candidate. “We must not kill the [Ter-Petrosian-led] movement,” he said.
Asked what he will do if the HAK leadership does throw its weight behind another contender, the outspoken oppositionist warned, “If we are to support some other party, then Hrant Bagratian will find a way of talking to that party, thinking or quitting altogether.”
Opposition critics say that the BHK cannot be interested in genuine change in Armenia because it was part of the government until last June. They also point to Tsarukian’s’ reputedly close ties to Kocharian, the man who ordered a deadly crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election.