By Margarit Yesayan
The leader of the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), Stepan Demirchian, on Friday ruled out the possibility of joining a new opposition bloc suggested by Ashot Manucharian, one of the most vocal critics of the current authorities.
Speaking at the annual congress of his leftist Socialist Armenia bloc, Manucharian announced that he will try to put together a new larger alliance of opposition forces, including political heavyweights like the HZhK.
“The HZhK is ready to cooperate with various political forces, including Socialist Armenia, on specific issues,” Demirchian told RFE/RL. “But to talk about some agreements or new bloc just doesn’t make sense.”
Last September the HZhK joined forces with two other major opposition parties, Hanrapetutyun (Republic) and National Unity, in a concerted effort to topple President Robert Kocharian. The three parties, which were close to forming a bloc, attempted to get the Armenian parliament to bring impeachment proceedings against Kocharian.
But the campaign has since largely run out of steam as differences have emerged between National Unity on one side and the HZhK and Hanrapetutyun on the other. Some Armenian newspapers have accused National Unity leader Artashes Geghamian of secretly cooperating with the authorities. And although Geghamian has denied the allegations, the reports seem to have spread mutual distrust inside the opposition troika.
Some observers suggest that Manucharian, who has an uneasy rapport with Geghamian, is now trying to seize upon the opportunity to win over the two more popular parties. However, Manucharian’s repeated attempts to form a broad anti-Kocharian coalition have been unsuccessful so far.