The leader of a party represented in Armenia’s current government has deplored Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s harsh attacks on alleged “counterrevolutionary” elements in the country, saying that he is alienating political groups that helped him come to power.
Aram Sarkisian warned that they could no longer back Pashinian’s plans to force snap parliamentary elections in the coming months.
Pashinian launched the verbal attacks following the start of campaigning for the September 23 municipal elections in Yerevan which his Civil Contract party hopes to win by a landslide. Speaking at a campaign rally last week, he claimed that “political forces portraying themselves as guardians of the revolution” are secretly collaborating with the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in a bid to get more votes in the polls.
Pashinian, who led last spring a protest movement that brought down Armenia’s previous HHK-controlled government, did not name those forces. Observers believe that he referred to at least some of the other parties that are represented in his cabinet. Those are Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Dashnaktsutyun as well as the Republic and Bright Armenia parties.
The latter make up, together with Civil Contract, the Yelk alliance that finished third in the last parliamentary elections held in April 2017. Republic and Bright Armenia refused to back Pashinian when he launched the anti-government mass protests in April.
Despite the rift, Pashinian gave his Yelk partners two ministerial posts in his cabinet formed in May. Still, the three parties subsequently failed to agree on a single mayoral candidate in Yerevan. Bright Armenia and Republic fielded their own candidate, Justice Minister Artak Zeynalian, who is now challenging Civil Contract’s Hayk Marutian.
The Republic leader, Aram Sarkisian, described as “nonsensical” suggestions that his party is secretly collaborating with the HHK when he campaigned for Zeynalian late on Monday. He also emphasized the fact that parliament deputies from Republic, Bright Armenia, the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun helped Pashinian become prime minister on May 8. “How can you say such things about the team that has worked with you?” he said, appealing to the premier.
“If you want to form a government only with those who marched with you, to reckon only with them and to build [a new] Armenia only with them, I have nothing to say to you,” Sarkisian went on. “But you must think about how you will be going about holding pre-term [parliamentary] elections.
“The two parties listed by me and the four other members of our [Yelk] parliamentary faction have stood with you and said that they support fresh elections. I can now see these people wondering whether they should keep up that support.”
“These people, who helped you once, may not help you this time around,” warned the veteran politician.
Sarkisian said that ordinary Armenians also do not like what he sees as Pashinian’s divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.“I am deeply convinced that our people … are sick and tired of fighting against each other,” he said.