Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and former President Robert Kocharian must not participate in snap parliamentary elections expected in June, the leader of a major opposition party said on Friday.
Edmon Marukian said they both must “leave and free the political arena” because Armenia needs to a follow a “third path” represented by his Bright Armenia Party (LHK), one of the two opposition groups represented in the current parliament.
“Armenia has no right to remain stuck: this is what Pashinian’s reelection would mean. Nor does Armenia have a right to move backwards,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Marukian dismissed suggestions that the political forces led by Pashinian and Kocharian will be the main election contenders.
“Most voters now reject both the current and former authorities,” he claimed. He said his meetings with many citizens have exposed a “deep disappointment” with Pashinian’s government.
Hrachya Hakobian, a pro-government lawmaker and Pashinian’s brother-in-law, shrugged off the LHK leader’s comments.
“Edmon Marukian cannot decide who must leave the arena,” he said. “Armenia’s citizens will decide that through the elections.”
Kocharian reaffirmed this week his plans to participate in the elections. He said he will lead an electoral alliance comprising at least two opposition parties.
The ex-president, who had ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, predicted earlier this year a “bipolar” parliamentary race, implying that he will be Pashinian’s main challenger.
For his part, Pashinian referred to his principal political foes late last month as “wolves seeking to come to power.”