Zharangutyun (Heritage) party leader Raffi Hovannisian confirmed on Friday the demise of his political alliance with former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian which unsuccessfully challenged Armenia’s former leadership.
He said the ORO alliance no longer exists because “new solutions” are needed for the Armenian political scene following the recent mass protests that brought down the country’s longtime leader, Serzh Sarkisian.
Hovannisian, Oskanian and Ohanian teamed up ahead of parliamentary elections held in April 2017. The three men strongly criticized the Sarkisian administration during the election campaign.
ORO failed to win any seats in the Armenian parliament. Official election results showed it garnering only 2 percent of the vote. The opposition bloc rejected them as fraudulent but avoided staging post-elections demonstrations.
Hovannisian said he has offered Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to set up an alliance with Zharangutyun and other political forces that supported the “velvet revolution” in order to jointly contest early parliamentary elections expected by next spring.
“This is my proposal,” he told a news conference. “Prime Minister Pashinian and his party need to weigh it up.”
Hovannisian said that should Pashinian reject the proposal Zharangutyun would join forces with other groups or go it alone. He did not name other potential allies of his party.
The very popular premier’s Civil Contract party is part of the Yelk alliance which finished third in the 2017 elections. Pashinian and other Civil Contract figures say they have not yet decided whether their party will preserve Yelk or participate in the next elections on its own. They have not commented on the possibility of teaming up with other forces.
Pashinian declined to enter into an alliance with a coalition of more radical opposition groups, notably Zharangutyun, when he launched in March sustained street protests that eventually led to Sarkisian’s resignation. He cited their reluctance to publicly renounce violent methods of political struggle.
The Zharangutyun-led grouping held in March several anti-Sarkisian rallies attended by a few hundred people. Pashinian pulled much bigger crowds during his successful campaign for regime change.