A close associate of Raffi Hovannisian rounded on former President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Tuesday for dismissing as unserious anti-government protests held by the fellow opposition leader after the recent presidential election.
Ruben Hakobian, the parliamentary leader of Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, accused Ter-Petrosian of spreading discord among Armenia’s leading opposition forces. “Today the number one splitter of the opposition camp is Levon Ter-Petrosian,” he charged at a news conference.
Hakobian was responding to Ter-Petrosian’s weekend remarks about Hovannisian’s post-election movement. In a keynote speech, the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said those protests never posed a serious threat to the government. He also mocked Hovannnisian for praying together with the chief of the Armenian police after the April 9 clashes in Yerevan between riot police and opposition protesters.
Hakobian faulted the HAK and other rival opposition groups for effectively boycotting the February 18 presidential election. He said they claimed as recently as two months ago that changing the government through elections is not possible but are now actively preparing for the May 5 mayoral elections in Yerevan. “Why didn’t they rally [around Hovannisian] to carry out regime change?” he said.
While attacking Hovannisian, Ter-Petrosian reaffirmed the HAK’s readiness to cooperate with Zharangutyun and other opposition forces in trying to strip the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) of its majority in Yerevan’s municipal council.
Vahagn Khachatrian, who tops the list of HAK candidates for the municipal polls, stressed the importance of such cooperation on Tuesday, saying that the opposition parties will find it hard to defeat the HHK unless they jointly fight against vote irregularities.
“The key thing is to prevent government representatives from winning these elections,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on the campaign trail. “The winner of the Yerevan elections could make a serious bid for regime change in the country,” he said.
Representatives of Zharangutyun and other opposition forces recognize the importance of coordinated opposition actions in their public pronouncements. However, they have so far failed to agree on practical modalities of such an effort.