By Tigran Avetisian
The only opposition party represented in Armenia’s parliament is considering boycotting National Assembly sessions in protest against the government’s perceived failure to address the country’s lingering post-election crisis, one of its leaders said on Friday.
The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party already threatened such a boycott last year if the Armenian authorities fail to release dozens of arrested opposition members and engage in dialogue with the opposition.
“Unfortunately, constructive dialogue between the authority and the opposition has failed to materialize,” said Stepan Safarian, a parliament deputy and senior member of Zharangutyun. “In this situation, we are left with no option but to discuss the expediency of our further parliamentary activities.”
Safarian said the party’s governing board will likely discuss the matter and make a decision by the end of this month. “I think that we will address that issue soon, most probably in late January,” he told journalists.
Zharangutyun holds only seven seats in the 131-member National Assembly. The vast majority of the other seats are controlled by the four parties represented in Armenia’s coalition government.
Zharangutyun endorsed former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in the February 2008 presidential election and strongly condemned the bloody suppression of his post-election demonstrations in Yerevan. It also denounced the ensuing mass arrests and trials of Ter-Petrosian supporters.
The party’s top leader, Raffi Hovannisian, walked out of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in June in protest against its failure to sanction Yerevan for refusing to release the arrested oppositionists. The PACE recently threatened to impose sanctions at its upcoming session in Strasbourg.
(Photolur photo: Stepan Safarian.)