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Armenia's Hovannisian Blasts Feuding Party Members

Raffi Hovannisian

Raffi Hovannisian

YEREVAN -- Armenian opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian broke nearly two weeks of silence on September 22 by calling a bitter dispute between senior members of his opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party "unacceptable," RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a statement on September 21, Hovannisian refrained from taking sides in the row but warned that he would intervene if the two sides did not resolve the dispute.

Hovannisian, who holds no formal position in the party despite being its de facto leader, did not explain his surprise resignation from the Armenian parliament, which seems to have precipitated the dispute.

His September 7 resignation was followed by the expulsion from the party ranks of three senior Zharangutyun figures, including a member of Armenia's Central Election Commission who later accused the party's nominal chairman, Armen Martirosian, of foul play and secret collaboration with the Armenian government.

Martirosian and his allies, who dominate Zharangutyun's decision-making board, have rejected the accusations, saying they were acting on orders from the government and Armenia's largest opposition alliance, the Armenia National Congress.

"Of course, as the party's founder, I bear a share of the blame," Hovannisian said in a statement, "but at issue today is collective responsibility or rather...collective irresponsibility."