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Kocharyan snubs offer of triple alliance of former presidents

6 May 2021
Former presidents of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan (1991–1998), Robert Kocharyan (1998–2008), and Serzh Sargsyan (2008–2018). Official photos.

Former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan has turned down a proposed political alliance between the country’s three former presidents.

On Wednesday, Armenia’s first President, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, published a draft of the proposed agreement to form a ‘National Accord Alliance’ between himself, Kocharyan, and Serzh Sargsyan.

The proposal, an attempt to consolidate opposition to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, comes as Armenia prepares for snap parliamentary elections slated for June.

According to Ter-Petrosyan, he raised the idea during a meeting of all of Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s former presidents in late March.  

‘It’s the duty of all Armenians to realise that the regeneration of Pashinyan’s regime is much more dangerous for Armenia and Artsakh than even the possible or supposed threats coming from Azerbaijan and Turkey,’ Ter-Petrosyan said in a statement.

According to the draft statement, none of the three presidents would run for public office. The bloc was supposed to consist of public figures, political parties and the representatives of non-governmental organisations. 

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was quick to dismiss the initiative, describing it as an attempted ‘bandit revolution’. 

He said that Ter-Petrosyan had twice before tried to start a revolution — in 2008 and 2015 — and had failed both times. 

Pashinyan was himself a former ally of Ter-Petrosyan during his 2008 run for president, and spent around two years in prison following a deadly post-election crackdown on protests.

The crackdown on protests following disputed elections in 2008 left 10 people dead. Image via Wikipedia.

‘The only thing that Ter-Petrosyan managed to do during his time in politics was to bring Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan to power, and to keep them in power with great precision’, Pashinyan stated on Wednesday. 

Kocharyan declines

Despite an apparent consensus among the former leaders on the need to oust Pashinyan from power, Kocharyan has opposed doing so in alliance with Ter-Petrosyan and Sargsyan.

In his statement on Wednesday, Ter-Petrosyan said he Kocharyan turned down the offer as he saw it as a threat to the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement, which he said Kocharyan had founded.

Responding later on Wednesday, Kocharyan said that he did believe it would harm the movement but his office denied he was behind it. 

Kocharyan instead announced he would lead a bloc consisting of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and Rebirth Armenia, a party established in March by the former Republican Party governor of Syunik Region, Vahe Hakobyan.

The Homeland Salvation Movement was formed amid the political turmoil in Armenia following the 9 November ceasefire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. The agreement brought an end to the bloody 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh and saw the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the region.

An opposition protest organised by the Homeland Salvation Movement in Yerevan on 2 March. Photo: Ani Avetisyan/OC Media.

Since the ceasefire, over a dozen parties have united under the movement including the former ruling Republican Party and parliament’s second-largest party, Prosperous Armenia.  Led by former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, they have held constant acts of disobedience and protests in attempt to force Pashinyan to resign.

However, the movement failed to gain enough public support to bring about their proposed ‘transitional government’ under Manukyan, with many associating them with former governments they saw as corrupt.

Vazgen Manukyan at a protest on 9 March. Photo: Ani Avetisyan/OC Media.

Armenians prepare to go to the polls

Pashinyan agreed to hold snap elections following lengthy discussions in March with the parliamentary opposition leaders Gagik Tsarukyan of the Prosperous Armenia Party and Edmon Marukyan of Bright Armenia. 

Following the procedures to trigger snap elections, Pashinyan resigned on 25 April, remaining as acting Prime Minister. 

All major parties in Armenia plan to participate in the elections alongside a number of newly-established ones. 

However, opinion polls have forecasted that few parties will cross the 5% threshold to enter Parliament. 

According to an April poll conducted by Gallup International Armenia, Pashinyan’s approval rating dropped to 27.2% since their previous poll a month earlier, a four and a half percentage point decline. 

The same poll saw support for Robert Kocaryan rise to 8.1%, up from 5.9% the previous month. 

According to the results, no other party has enough support to win seats in Parliament.

Almost half of respondents stated that they would not participate in the elections.

Several parties have announced their intention to run as electoral blocs in an attempt to overcome the threshold required to enter parliament.

These include president Kocharyan, who will lead a bloc of the ARF and Rebirth Armenia parties. 

The former ruling Republican Party will run in a bloc with the Homeland party led by former National Security Service chief Artur Vanetsyan.  Vanetsyan served as NSS chief from 2018 to 2019 before leaving the post following a fall-out with the prime minister.

The ruling  My Step party, as well as the current parliamentary opposition parties — Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia — will all run alone. 

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