YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—At the 10th National Congress in Yerevan on Monday, the Heritage Party board re-elected Raffi Hovannisian as its leader. In a speech to the congress, Hovanissian called for the ouster of President Serzh Sarkisian “for the sake of Armenia.”
The board selected Armen Martirosyan to serve as vice chair in charge of public policy, Zaruhi Postanjyan as secretary general for international affairs, Gayane Abasian as board secretary, and Davit Sanasarian as press secretary.
The Congress first approved its agenda as well as the composition of its secretariat and election commission. The board of the Party, the Heritage parliamentary faction, and the “Barev Yerevan” team at the Yerevan City Council presented their reports.
Heritage leader Raffi K. Hovannisian addressed the Congress with a keynote speech outlining the major domestic issues and foreign policy challenges in the period since the previous Congress.
Elections for members of the new board, as well as for the audit and statutory committees, were held in the afternoon.
The Congress elected a new governing board composed of Heritage Party founder Raffi Hovannisian, educators Anahit Bakhshyan and Armen Martirosyan, Members of Parliament Ruben Hakobyan and Zaruhi Postanjyan, economists Gagik Margaryan, Susanna Muradyan, and Rshtun Martirosyan, journalist-economist Hrayr Manoukyan, political scientist Stepan Hasan-Jalalyan, Philip Arzoumanyan, and Hovsep Ghazaryan, designer Gayane Abasian, geographer Vahagn Hovhannisyan and international relations specialist Andranik Grigorian.
The Congress also adopted a Resolution reaffirming its commitment to Heritage’s national goals. It reads in part: “The formula for Armenia’s salvation remains the same—Liberty, Sovereignty, and the National Interest. We will be worthy of our Flag only if we overcome our partisan interests and work together to realize a Constitutional Revolution with a united agenda for extraordinary change of Armenia’s illegitimate authorities, immediately and without any opportunism or political bickering.”
“President Serzh Sarkisian has no mandate to make Armenia part of a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states and must step down as soon as possible,” Raffi Hovannisian said in an address over the weekend, RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) reported.
Hovannisian accused Sarkisian of leading the country to ruin as he addressed a conference of his Heritage (Zharangutiun) party, one of the four parliamentary forces jointly challenging the current Armenian leadership. “For the sake of Armenia, for the sake of its national flag, Mr. Sarkisian and his administration must resign,” he said in his speech.
“We believe that there must be a constitutional revolution through a change of this unelected government,” the U.S.-born politician told reporters in separate comments.
Sarkisian’s resignation is not among 12 mostly socioeconomic demands that were jointly issued to the authorities by Zharangutiun, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) as well as the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutiun parties earlier this month. Only two of those parties, Zharangutiun and the HAK, officially stand for regime change in the country, with the BHK and Dashnaktsutiun favoring a more cautious line.
“If it was up to Zharangutiun, there would have been 120, rather than 12, points, including regime change,” said Hovannisian. He hinted that his party could team up with other anti-government forces to campaign for Sarkisian’s ouster if its opposition allies do not eventually toughen their common agenda.
Zharangutiun already tried unsuccessfully to bring down the government after last year’s presidential election in which Hovannisian was the main opposition candidate. The latter claims to be the rightful winner of the disputed ballot.
Zharangutyun is also the only member of the opposition quartet to openly and explicitly object to Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan sought by Sarkisian. Hovannisian reaffirmed this stance.
“I see no benefits there for Armenia. Furthermore, I exclude that anything that’s in Armenia’s interests can be signed under this regime,” he said.
The Zharangutyun leader claimed in that context that Sarkisian is too illegitimate to sign any international treaties. He also reaffirmed his party’s strong support for Armenia’s integration with the European Union.