Former Defense Minister to Run for Armenian Parliament

Seyran Ohanyan, Former Defense Minister of the Republic of Armenia in May 2016 (Photo: Photolur)
Seyran Ohanyan, Former Defense Minister of the Republic of Armenia in May 2016 (Photo: Photolur)

Seyran Ohanyan, Former Defense Minister of the Republic of Armenia in May 2016 (Photo: Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)— Two months after his sacking, former Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanian announced on Tuesday that he will “actively” participate in upcoming parliamentary elections to try to bring about political and economic changes in Armenia.

Ohanian hinted that he will challenge President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the elections slated for April. But he stopped short of explicitly criticizing the Armenian government.

“I have decided to actively participate in political and, in particular, electoral processes … for the sake of the security of our state and realization of national ideas,” Ohanian wrote on his newly opened Facebook page.

He said he has started “a series of consultations with political forces, non-governmental structures, prominent figures and intellectuals.” He did not name any of them, saying instead that he is trying to form a political “team” that will seek to “form a new type of political and economic system in Armenia with a new type of governance.”

A retired army general, Ohanian commanded Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed armed forces from 1999 until being appointed in 2007 by then President Robert Kocharian as chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff. He became defense minister in 2008 shortly after Sarkisian succeeded Kocharian as head of state.

Ohanian was replaced by the chief of the presidential staff, Vigen Sargsian, in October as part of a government reshuffle initiated by Sarkisian.

The former minister stressed that he quit “without emotional outpourings” and turned down “all high-level posts offered to me” because he now wants to “achieve changes in the internal political life of our state.”

The announcement came the day after Victor Dallakian, until recently a deputy chief of Sarkisian’s staff, claimed that he and his political allies will “cooperate” with Ohanian in the elections. “We share the same evaluation of the ways out of the current situation in Armenia,” Dallakian told reporters.

Dallakian launched scathing attacks on Sarkisian immediately after resigning from the presidential administration in early October. Some opposition leaders speculated afterwards that his resignation is a pre-election ploy designed to weaken Sarkisian’s real political opponents.

Ohanian has also been courted by Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister who set up a new opposition party earlier this year. Oskanian expressed hope last week that the former defense chief will enter into an electoral alliance with the party called Hamakhmbum (Consolidation).

Ohanian said on Tuesday that he will clarify his political plans “soon.”

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