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Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian will stand in Armenia’s forthcoming parliamentary elections in a bid to achieve “regime change,” an opposition leader claimed on Friday.

Victor Dallakian, who too was a senior government official until recently, insisted that Ohanian and his party called Third Republic are poised to form an electoral alliance that could also comprise other opposition groups.

“Our cooperation is not just continuing,” Dallakian told reporters. “Our cooperation is deepening and this has to do with the fact that our party’s and Seyran Ohanian’s assessments of the severe situation existing in the country and ways out of it are identical.”

“We are of the opinion that it is possible to peacefully achieve regime change in our country as a result of the parliamentary elections only in a united and consolidated fashion,” he said.

Ohanian announced his decision to “actively” participate in the April 2017 elections on Monday just over two months after being sacked as defense minister in a government reshuffle initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian. He said he will strive to bring about political and economic changes in the country but did not name any political allies.

Ohanian was appointed as defense minister shortly after Sarkisian became president in 2008. He was Armenia’s top army general until then.

Armenia -- Viktor Dallakian addresses a congress of his Third Republic party, 23Dec.2016
Armenia -- Viktor Dallakian addresses a congress of his Third Republic party, 23Dec.2016

“Seyran Ohanian is not responsible for this situation in Armenia,” Dallakian said after chairing a pre-election conference of his party. “Only one person bears responsibility for this situation in Armenia and that person is President Serzh Sarkisian.”

Dallakian launched scathing attacks on Sarkisian immediately after resigning in early October as a deputy chief of the presidential staff responsible for relations with the Armenian parliament. He had held that position since 2012.

Dallakian, who was an outspoken opposition lawmaker in the early and mid-2000s, downplayed the significance of that job, saying that he only performed “symbolic functions” in Sarkisian’s staff.

In a speech at the party congress, Dallakian harshly criticized the president’s track record and said opposition forces should close the ranks to prevent the ruling Republican Party’s victory in the upcoming elections. He claimed that the Armenian authorities will try to rig the ballot and risk post-election “revolutionary cataclysms.”

Ohanian has also been courted by Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister highly critical of the current government. Oskanian expressed hope earlier this month that the former defense chief will team up with his Consolidation party set up in June.

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