Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian has announced plans to turn his Armenian National Congress (HAK) into a single political party, saying that the opposition alliance cannot continue operating in its current form.
In an interview with the pro-opposition daily “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” daily published on Thursday, he cited serious divisions within the HAK that led several opposition parties to formally or effectively split from the bloc last year.
“Clearly, the Congress cannot be preserved with the structure and composition with which it has acted in the last five years,” Ter-Petrosian said. He said the new party will pursue the HAK’s key declared aim -- “dismantling the kleptocracy and restoring constitutional order.”
“I will save no effort to turn the party into one of the most influential political forces in our country,” added Ter-Petrosian. “And if I am entrusted with leading, even with a symbolic status, the newly created party I will consider that a great honor and will perform my duties with utmost responsibility.”
The HAK was set up by Ter-Petrosian and two dozen opposition groups shortly after the February 2008 presidential election in which the ex-president was the main opposition candidate. It became Armenia’s leading opposition group and remained so until recently.
The HAK’s and Ter-Petrosian’s popularity has visibly declined in the last couple of years, as evidenced by its modest showing in the May 2012 parliamentary elections. It won only seven seats in Armenia’s 131-seat parliament. That might explain why Ter-Petrosian decided not to run in the February 2013 presidential election.
The bloc has also been beset by internal disagreements over the past year. They have centered on Ter-Petrosian’s efforts to form an anti-government alliance with the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a former member of the governing coalition.
Only one of a dozen or so parties currently making up the HAK, the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), immediately voiced support for Ter-Petrosian’s idea. The HHSh was led by Ter-Petrosian in the past.
Another major HAK member, the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), effectively rejected the idea. “There is no such issue on the HZhK’s agenda,” said Stepan Demirchian, the HZhK leader.
Another, smaller group, the Democratic Path Party, was also against turning the HAK into a party. “I don’t like the idea of creating a party because people with different ideologies cannot be boiled in one pot,” its deputy chairman, Vartan Grigorian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).