Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Friday that the alliance formed by him and two major opposition parties will not enter into a coalition government with President Serzh Sarkisian as a result of Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
Ohanian said he has serious differences with Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) despite having held a key government position for more than eight years.
“I have no problem with the president except that we have different views on forming and managing our state system,” he told a joint news conference with Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister leading the opposition Hamakhmbum (Consolidation) party.
Ohanian, Oskanian and Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of another opposition party, Zharangutyun (Heritage), officially set up their electoral alliance on Monday. A joint declaration signed by them calls for the formation of a “new type of government” in the country.
“Our bloc thinks that the current governing parties need to be changed,” said Ohanian. “If we come to power or get a corresponding vote, then I think that cooperation with the Republican Party will be meaningless because it will keep the existing system intact.”
Sarkisian sacked Ohanian in October as part of a major government reshuffle. The former defense chief announced his decision to participate in the April 2 parliamentary elections later in 2016. He has increasingly criticized the state of affairs in the country since then.
Ohanian claimed late last month that Armenia will risk violent unrest unless it undergoes “systemic changes.” A senior HHK representative condemned the claim as “blackmail.”
The ex-minister and retired army general on Friday again backed opposition claims that there are political prisoners in the country but declined to name any of them. “We will do everything to ensure that there are no political prisoners in Armenia,” he said.
Some opposition leaders have dismissed such statements as disingenuous, saying that Ohanian was involved in a 2008 government crackdown on the opposition and never objected to the imprisonment of Sarkisian’s political opponents before his sacking.