Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian will again call on Armenia’s opposition groups to join forces during Sunday’s congress of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, which is no longer represented in the national parliament.
A senior Zharangutyun member, Susanna Muradian, said on Friday that the appeal will be addressed to both “parliamentary and extraparliamentary” forces opposed to President Serzh Sarkisian. Hovannisian’s party is already negotiating with some of them, she said.
“Zharangutyun does not expect them to rally around it,” Muradian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “If it turns out as a result of discussions that it’s better to rally around someone else … we will be ready to rally around someone else who will come up with a better action plan.”
Zharangutyun already teamed up with former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s Consolidation party to run in the April 2 parliamentary elections. Their ORO alliance polled only 2 percent of the vote, falling well short of a 7 percent threshold for having seats in Armenia’s new parliament.
The ORO leaders rejected the official vote results as fraudulent but refrained from staging post-election street protests. But they have kept a low profile since then.
So far Hovannisian’s proposal has not met with a positive response from other opposition forces, including those that won seats in the National Assembly.
Earlier this month, Ohanian did not rule out the possibility of ORO’s transformation into a single political party. He also said that the Armenian opposition must be prepared for “a force majeure situation” that would require anti-government protests.
Zharangutyun’s Muradian similarly said that street protests could be the only realistic way for the opposition to challenge the government. “If the so-called constitutional reforms [enacted in 2015] were supposed to lead to such ‘elections’ then we will have to opt for other methods and ways of struggle,” he said.
In a separate development, Hovannisian met on Friday with the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills. “Mills and Hovannisian discussed a broad array of matters relating to American-Armenian relations, regional security, and pressing global developments,” read a short statement released by the U.S.-born opposition leader’s office.