By Armen Zakarian
Opposition leader Artashes Geghamian sought on Wednesday to end uncertainty over his and his National Unity party’s political strategy, taking a tough stance against Armenia’s current leadership.
In a statement read out by Geghamian, National Unity said the Armenian parliament should call a nationwide “referendum of confidence” in President Robert Kocharian, an idea suggested by the Constitutional Court following this year’s disputed presidential election. It was angrily rejected by Kocharian and his political allies. The latter control the current legislature, elected in the May 25 elections, and are bound to oppose the referendum.
National Unity said it will start collecting citizens’ signatures in support of the vote if the parliament majority rejects its demand. Its strongly-worded statement accuses the authorities of falsifying both the presidential and parliamentary elections and thereby “usurping power.”
Geghamian’s charges echo remarks made by leaders of the rival opposition Artarutyun (Unity) alliance made in recent weeks. They have similarly vowed to fight for the referendum of confidence despite lacking sufficient support in the parliament.
The two opposition forces have uneasy relations with one another, with Artarutyun suspecting Geghamian of secretly collaborating with Kocharian. Geghamian’s surprise inclusion into an Armenian parliamentary delegation heading for Strasbourg next week to attend the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could add to that suspicion. Earlier this month, he was publicly praised by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
Geghamian, however, sounded uncompromising towards the authorities, announcing that the 9 deputies from National Unity will boycott Thursday’s session of the parliament along with the 16 Artarutyun lawmakers. The session will hear and almost certainly approve the four-year program of the new government formed by three pro-Kocharian parties last week.
“That session, if it is attended by the opposition deputies, will legitimize the disgraceful elections that took place on May 25,” Geghamian told a news conference.