A regional chapter of Raffi Hovannisian’s opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party has demanded that its candidates be barred from running for parliament following its leadership’s controversial decision to team up with two former government ministers.
Zharangutyun’s governing board approved earlier this month Hovannisian’s plans to enter into an electoral alliance with former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. Some board members, notably parliament deputy Zaruhi Postanjian, opposed the move. Postanjian terminated on Monday her membership in Zharangutyun in protest.
It emerged on Tuesday that leaders and members of the party chapter in the southeastern town of Kapan are also opposed to the alliance. One of them, Anna Hakobian, said they sent a letter to the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Yerevan demanding that the new bloc’s candidates representing Zharangutyun be disqualified from the April 2 parliamentary elections.
Hakobian claimed that the Zharangutyun board is “illegitimate” because Hovannisian and his associates have not held a party congress for nearly three years in violation of the party statutes.
“This is both my view and a legal requirement: if no congress is held for two years, then the board has no right to make decisions,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “If a congress had been held, perhaps we would have had a more full-fledged board.”
Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, Armen Martirosian, brushed aside the demand. “It could have been a letter from supporters of Serzh Sarkisian and the [ruling] Republican Party because in essence it’s directed at a party fighting against Serzh Sarkisian,” he said. “There was no violation of the statutes because the three-year period has not yet expired.”
Martirosian said the decision to join forces with Oskanian and Ohanian was made not only by Zharangutyun’s board but also its larger Council.
The CEC, meanwhile, said it has received no letters from Zharangutyun’s Kapan branch yet.
Zharangutyun dissenters say their party should not cooperate with the two ex-ministers because they were involved in former President Robert Kocharian’s 2008 post-election crackdown on opposition protesters in Yerevan. Oskanian served as foreign minister while Ohanian was the Armenian army’s chief of staff at the time. He was appointed as defense minister shortly afterwards.