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Opposition Leader Quits Armenian Parliament

Raffi Hovannisian
Raffi Hovannisian
YEREVAN -- Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of a major Armenian opposition party, Zharangutyun (Heritage), has decided to resign from the country's parliament, RFE/RL Armenian Service reports.

An unnamed party official told RFE/RL that Hovannisian will explain the reasons for this move in the coming days.

Armen Martirosian, the nominal head of Zharangutyun's parliamentary faction, attributed it to "personal reasons stemming from critical national issues" such as the ongoing Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and a lack of democracy in the country.

Hovannisian, a former U.S. citizen, served as Armenian foreign minister in 1992. He founded the Zharangutyun party in 2002 and remains its de facto top leader.

His party chose to support former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in the February 2008 presidential election after Hovannisian was controversially disqualified from the race.

Over the past year, Zharangutyun has increasingly distanced itself from Ter-Petrosian's Armenian National Congress.

According to a July party statement, it has decided to act more independently after failing to get Armenia's leading opposition parties to join forces.

Zharangutyun has six other seats in Armenia's parliament.