Ter-Petrosyan acknowledges dissent within opposition bloc; says ANC to turn into political party

Ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who currently leads an opposition alliance of a dozen or so political parties and organizations, has acknowledged dissent within its ranks, saying that the Armenian National Congress (ANC) no longer can continue with the same “composition and structure.”

In an interview with the pro-opposition Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun daily on Thursday, Ter-Petrosyan said that the ANC indeed had “internal fermentations”, with some forces and individuals leaving the alliance either de jure or de facto.

“I consider it natural, because the approaches and expectations of some have changed, the political agenda has changed, our tasks have changes, which calls for new organizational solutions,” underscored Ter-Petrosyan.

The ANC was formed in August 2008 as an institutionalized opposition bloc to push for a regime change in Armenia in the wake of a presidential election earlier that year in which Ter-Petrosyan officially lost to current President Serzh Sargsyan. Thousands of Ter-Petrosyan supporters staged street demonstrations protesting the outcome of the February vote, resulting in deadly clashes on March 1, 2008 and a subsequent crackdown on opposition members and backers.

The ANC originally made up of 18 political parties and organizations staged regular public rallies, demanding snap parliamentary and presidential elections, but appeared to have lost some of its political muscle before last year’s legislative poll in which it managed to gain only seven seats in the 131-member parliament. The ANC, which claimed the elections had been rigged in favor of the ruling party, further refused to field a candidate in the current presidential election after its 68-year-old leader announced his decision not to run for president again based on his age. Many observers, however, ascribed it to the institutional inability of the ANC to mount any serious challenge to the current administration.

“As a mass alliance of different political forces and non-partisans, the Congress has played its undeniable role of a movement relentlessly struggling against the gangster state, but this movement needs serious institutional changes to continue its role and struggle till the victorious end,” stressed Ter-Petrosyan.

“Considering the tendencies of political developments in the coming years, I think it is now time for various political forces and non-partisan individuals of the Congress to turn from a free alliance into a single party,” the opposition leader added.

In his interview Ter-Petrosyan also commented on the recent apparent assassination attempt against one of the opposition candidates running for president, Paruyr Hayrikyan.

He refused to be drawn into speculation about the possible reasons behind the attack, stressing that it is solely up to the investigators to advance theories and conduct the inquiry.

“Therefore, instead of empty talks, the only demand of all political forces and civil society organizations and the only objective of the authorities should be the speediest detection of the crime,” stressed Ter-Petrosyan.