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Tsarukian Sets Conditions For Opposition Election Bloc


Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian (C) attends a parliament session in Yerevan, 04Feb2013.

Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian (C) attends a parliament session in Yerevan, 04Feb2013.

Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) said on Tuesday that it will be ready to join forces with leading opposition groups for the upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan only if it plays a central role in such an alliance.

The idea of a broad-based anti-government bloc was floated by one of those groups, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), last week. Levon Zurabian, a HAK leader, said the HAK, the BHK as well as the opposition Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties will win control over the Yerevan municipality if they jointly participate in the May 5 elections. Such a victory would pave the way for regime change in the country, he said.

Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK lawmaker, said Tsarukian’s party, which holds far more parliament seats than any of the three opposition forces, supports the idea in principle. But she made clear that “a possible consolidation must be built around Prosperous Armenia.” That means the would-be bloc’s list of election candidates must be topped by a BHK member and dominated by other Tsarukian loyalists, she said.

“Naturally, that list must be topped by a representative of the BHK. We are ready to discuss other issues such as possible proportions of [candidates from the four forces,]” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). Those proportions should reflect “existing realities,” she said.

The BHK, which was part of President Serzh Sarkisian’s coalition government until last June, announced late last week that former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian will be its top candidate in the Yerevan polls.

There was no immediate reaction to the BHK conditions from the opposition. The HAK’s Zurabian said he will comment on Wednesday.

Representatives Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun have sounded lukewarm about the idea of an electoral alliance with Tsarukian’s party. Zharangutyun leader Raffi Hovannisian, who was the main opposition candidate in the February 18 presidential election, has said that the opposition forces should join his ongoing campaign of post-election protests before discussing the municipal polls.
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