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Tsarukian Rules Out Coalition Deal With Pashinian


Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian takes part in an opposition rally in Yerevan, February 20, 2021.

Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), said on Thursday that he will not strike any power-sharing agreements with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as a result of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Tsarukian demanded Pashinian’s resignation in June last year, accusing him of incompetence and misrule. Shortly afterwards the influential tycoon was controversially prosecuted on that he sees as politically motivated charges. He was arrested in September but freed on bail almost one month later.

Like other opposition groups, the BHK has blamed Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanded his resignation. It joined a coalition of opposition parties that staged street protests in a bid topple the prime minister.

In recent months, Tsarukian and most of his associates have kept a low profile and avoided strong verbal attacks on the government, fuelling media speculation about their readiness to cooperate with Pashinian.

There have been suggestions that the ruling Civil Contract party could reach a coalition agreement with the BHK if it fails to win the majority of seats in the Armenian parliament in the snap elections scheduled for June 20.

“There is no way I will join forces with My Step,” Tsarukian told reporters, referring to the ruling political alliance mostly comprising members of Pashinian’s party.

“I’m going it alone. I’m going to win [the elections] and implement by program,” he said.

The BHK came in a distant second in the last parliamentary elections held in December 2018. It won 8.3 percent of the vote.

Beniamin Poghosian, a Yerevan-based political analyst, predicted that a newly established opposition bloc led by former President Robert Kocharian will be Pashinian’s main election challenger this time around.

Poghosian said that a coalition deal between Tsarukian and Pashinian will be a real possibility if Civil Contract wins most votes but falls short of a parliamentary majority. The prime minister and his political allies have not publicly commented on such a scenario.

The upcoming elections are supposed to end a serious political crisis caused by the Karabakh war. Poghosian claimed that the crisis will continue regardless of the outcome of the polls because a large part of the electorate will not have voted for Pashinian or Kocharian and will be unhappy with either man’s victory.

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