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Yerevan Opposition Bloc In Turmoil


Armenia -- A session of the Yerevan city council, April 23, 2019.

An opposition alliance represented in Yerevan’s municipal council seemed on the brink of collapse on Tuesday due to growing differences between its members affiliated with two political parties.

The Luys (Light) alliance holds three seats in the 65-member council dominated by political allies of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Mayor Hayk Marutian. It was formed by the Bright Armenia (LHK) and Hanrapetutyun parties ahead of the last municipal elections held in September 2018.

Although the two parties did not join forces for snap general elections held two months later, they continued to jointly challenge Marutian in the city council. Still, the two council members affiliated with Hanrapetutyun, Tehmina Vartanian and Ani Khachatrian, and their colleague from the LHK, Davit Khazhakian, have increasingly chosen different lines of attack on the mayor in recent months.

This apparent discord within Luys deepened on Monday during an ill-tempered session of the Yerevan council chaired by Marutian. Vartanian taunted and ridiculed the mayor after accusing him of showing a lack of respect for her.

Vartanian’s behavior did not go down well with the LHK. The party’s top leader, Edmon Marukian, said on Tuesday that the LHK’s governing board will consider withdrawing Khazhakian from the council because of that.

Armenia -- Bright Armenia Party leaders Edmon Marukian (R) and Mane Tandilian at a joint news conference in Yerevan, March 27, 2019.
Armenia -- Bright Armenia Party leaders Edmon Marukian (R) and Mane Tandilian at a joint news conference in Yerevan, March 27, 2019.

“If the board decides that Davit Khazhakian must leave the city council we will cease to be represented in the council and will therefore not bear any responsibility for [Luys’s] activities in the council,” Marukian told a news conference.

Another senior party figure, Mane Tandilian, said the conduct of the two other Luys councilors is not in tune with the LHK’s “agenda and vision.”

Khazhakian also rebuked his colleagues for their personal attacks on Marutian. He said Monday’s row “overshadowed” his latest allegations of forgery and abuse of power committed by the mayor.

Khazhakian did not clarify whether he wants to resign from the council. He said only that the LHK leadership will make a decision by consensus.

The two other Luys councilors seemed unfazed by the prospect of the opposition bloc’s breakup. “We will respect any decision made by the LHK,” said Khachatrian.

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