By Armen Zakarian
The Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) and several smaller groups that had split from the former ruling party in the past are now considering joining forces to step up their challenge against the present authorities. Representatives of the center-right opposition parties, who remain united in their support of former president Levon Ter-Petrossian, are currently negotiating the possibility of merging into a single party.
Among them are the Azatutyun (Freedom) party of former prime minister Hrant Bagratian, the 21st Century party led by former national security chief David Shahnazarian and the Armat organization led by several veteran members of the HHSh. Armat leaders were until recently at odds with the HHSh’s controversial chairman, the fugitive former interior minister Vano Siradeghian.
“It is too early to say whether or not these negotiations will yield any concrete results,” Ara Sahakian, a former deputy speaker of the parliament currently affiliated with Armat, told RFE/RL on Thursday.
Other sources close to the HHSh and its splinter groups say the creation of the new political organization, tentatively called “united liberal party,” now looks almost certain. They do not rule out the possibility of Ter-Petrossian taking on a major role in the party, which they say will campaign on a free-market platform in the next parliamentary elections due in 2003.
Ter-Petrossian has kept an extremely low profile since he was forced to resign by his successor, Robert Kocharian, in February 1998.