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Opposition Bloc ‘Undecided’ On Parliament Seats


Armenia -- Former NSS chief Artur Vanetsian (L) and former President Serzh Sarkisian at the official ceremony of the establishment of their Pativ Unem alliance, May 15, 2021.

An opposition alliance co-headed by former President Serzh Sarkisian and Artur Vanetsian said on Wednesday that it has not yet decided whether to take up its parliament seats won in the weekend elections described by it as fraudulent.

According to the official election results, the Pativ Unem alliance finished a distant third with 5.23 percent of the vote.

It should get 7 parliament seats despite failing to clear a 7 percent vote threshold to enter the National Assembly. Under the Armenian constitution, at least three political forces must be represented in the parliament.

Both Pativ Unem and former President Robert Kocharian’s Hayastan bloc, the official runner-up in the snap elections, have accused the authorities of rigging the vote to keep Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in power. Pashinian and his Civil Contract party deny the accusations.

Kocharian said on Tuesday that Hayastan will likely accept its 29 parliament seats despite planning to ask the Constitutional Court to overturn the election results.

Vanetsian said Pativ Unem is also intent on appealing to the court but has not yet made a final decision on a parliament boycott demanded by some opposition supporters.

“Right now we are collecting [evidence of] all violations that occurred during the elections and considering appealing to the Constitutional Court with other forces,” he told a news conference. “Only after the Constitutional Court’s decision will we make a decision on whether or not we accept the election results … and whether or not we will go to the parliament.”

“If the alliance decides to take up its mandates I will not leave my team alone and will go to the parliament so that we continue our struggle,” said the former director of Armenia’s National Security Service.

Vanetsian implied he personally thinks that Pativ Unem should join the new parliament. “The parliament will operate even if don’t take our mandates,” he said.

Pativ Unem was formed one month before the June 20 elections by Vanetsian’s Fatherland party and Sarkisian’s former ruling Republican Party (HHK). Both parties were key members of a coalition of opposition forces which tried to force Pashinian to resign over his handling of the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Vanetsian, 42, was appointed as head of the NSS immediately the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Sarkisian and brought Pashinian to power. He quickly became an influential member of Pashinian’s entourage, overseeing high-profile corruption investigations into former government officials and Sarkisian’s relatives. He fell out with Pashinian and resigned in September 2019.

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