The leader of the opposition Free Democrats Party, Khachatur Kokobelian, has refused to give up his parliament seat after the head of another opposition party with which he entered the National Assembly resigned and urged him to follow suit.
Kokobelian claimed having a case of “misunderstanding” with Raffi Hovannisian, the founder and leader of the Heritage party, who claimed on October 1 to have made an arrangement with the fellow oppositionist to vacate their seats together in order “to give more space to the young.”
Hovannisian’s resignation was confirmed the following day while Kokobelian was reportedly outside the country.
Kokobelian and another member of his party were elected to the National Assembly on a joint election slate with Heritage last May.
After Hovannisian’s resignation, the five-member Heritage faction includes two representatives from each party, as well as a “public sector” representative who comes to replace Hovannisian as the next in line on the list of election candidates.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday after a reported meeting with Hovannisian the previous night Kokobelian denied any “short-term” arrangements with the Heritage party leader, supposing that they simply misunderstood each other.
“There is no such decision and there was no such arrangement,” Kokobelian said.
He described the idea of providing entry to parliament to the young floated by Hovannisian in his statement as “a good one”, but added: “As I see it, the statement was a result of misunderstanding. Perhaps my colleague had expectations that I, too, would take that step.”
Kokobelian further suggested that they might be talking about different “arrangements”.
“I say that we had arrangements about the upcoming elections and the future and that we are not pursuing short-term policies,” he said.
At the same time, Kokobelian expressed his hope for continued “long-term cooperation” between Free Democrats and Heritage, reiterating that his party remains committed to supporting Hovannisian should he decide to run for president in the February election.
Meanwhile, Heritage party spokesperson Hovsep Khurshudian declined to comment on Kokobelian’s statement. He only said that the matter will be addressed at a broadened meeting of the party’s board and parliamentary faction later this month.