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Opposition Bloc Said To Keep Fighting For ‘Regime Change’


Armenia - Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian (C) and former Foreign Ministers Vartan Oskanian (L) and Raffi Hovannisian set up an opposition alliance in Yerevan, 13Feb2017.

An aide to opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian said on Tuesday that he, former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian will continue to jointly challenge the government despite their alliance’s poor showing in Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections.

“I will say this because I’m more or less informed. I know that both Seyran Ohanian and Vartan Oskanian stand with Raffi Hovannisian,” said Susanna Muradian, a senior member of Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

The three men teamed up in the run-up to the April 2 elections won by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). According to the official election results, their ORO alliance polled only 2 percent of the vote, falling well short of a 7 percent threshold for having seats in the new National Assembly. ORO rejected the official vote results as fraudulent but refrained from urging supporters to take to the streets.

Ohanian stated in early June that he will not quit politics and will remain in opposition to the Sarkisian administration. He hinted at anti-government protests that could be organized by ORO and other opposition groups.

Muradian said that Hovannisian and other Zharangutyun figures have been negotiating with other opposition forces for the purpose of holding such street protests to ensure that Sarkisian does not stay in power after completing his final presidential term in April 2018. She declined to give details of those negotiations.

The opposition Yelk alliance, which won 9 seats in the 105-member parliament, has also threatened to hold rallies if Sarkisian decides to become prime minister next year. Still, its leaders have so far been cool towards Hovannisian’s calls for an anti-government “velvet revolution.”

With the end of Sarkisian’s presidency, Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary system of government, meaning that its next president will have largely ceremonial powers. Sarkisian has still not clarified what he plans to do after April 2018.

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