Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian gave indications on Monday that he is ready, in principle, to join forces with two former government ministers for challenging the Armenian authorities in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“We are holding consultations with everyone and will publicize our decision in the coming days,” Hovannisian said, commenting on his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party’s participation in the April 2 vote.
“We are ready to cooperate with all those forces that are committed to the freedom of Armenia’s citizens, constitutional rights and our country’s sovereignty,” he told reporters.
Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, Armen Martirosian, did not exclude on Friday that the party may enter into an electoral alliance comprising former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
Hovannisian also did not rule out such a possibility. “There are politicians with whom I agree and with whom I have had very big differences,” he said, listing Ohanian among them. “People who offended me and represented the regime when I was denied [Armenia] citizenship,” he went on, in an apparent reference to Oskanian.
“But politics is a changing art and trade, and the people are now demanding change, even after the rigged [constitutional] referendum,” added the U.S.-born politician who had served as Armenia’s first foreign minister.
One prominent member of Zharangutyun’s governing board, Zaruhi Postanjian, has publicly spoken out against teaming up with Oskanian and Ohanian.She has said that both men were involved in former President Robert Kocharian’s deadly post-election crackdown in 2008 on opposition protesters.
When asked about Postanjian’s objections, Hovannisian said: “Everyone was to blame [for the 2008 bloodshed] -- all presidents, the armed forces, those who opened fire on innocent citizens and policemen.”
The Zharangutyun leader also downplayed his past allegation that Ohanian committed a “state crime” by ordering Armenian soldiers to vote for President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional changes in the December 2015 referendum. He urged the media to “differentiate between those who order vote falsifications and those who are forced to carry out them.”
Hovannisian also declared: “I think that Seyran Ohanian has very important government experience and has something to give our country. He may also become a leader in the future. But nobody should be immune to investigation.”
Oskanian said last month he met with Hovannisian and Ohanian recently to discuss the possibility of their cooperation. The former defense minister was sacked in October as part of a government reshuffle initiated by Sarkisian. He said in December that he will “actively” participate in the parliamentary elections in a bid to bring about political and economic changes in Armenia.