Hunchakian Party Expels Leader

BY Sabine Darrous–From The Daily Star

BEIRUT–The divisions within the Hunchak Party over parliament member Yeghia Djeredjian’s alliance with former Premier Rafik Hariri heated up on Monday–when the party’s international Central Committee announced that it had expelled Djeredjian from its ran’s.

The move came a day after Hariri announced that Djeredjian was a candidate on the Dignity List for an Armenian Orthodox seat in Beirut’s District Two.

A fax received by The Daily Star from the party’s Central Committee said it had expelled Djeredjian "for his behavior as a party member," adding that "his candidacy on (Hariri’s) Dignity List in Beirut did not represent the party’s decision."

Djerdjian–who was unavailable for comment–had earlier told The Daily Star that his candidacy was approved by the party’s executive committee– which is responsible for its affairs in Lebanon.

A Hunchak source said the inter-party conflict exploded on July 21–when the 13-member Executive Committee voted 8-4 for Djeredjian’s candidacy.

The international central committee–said the source–rejected the move and dissolved the executive committee the same day–appointing a four-member interim body to run party affairs.

The Central News Agency quoted Serop Demerdjian–who heads the interim committee–as saying that Djeredjian’s candidacy was illegal because it required at least a two-thirds majority vote.

The 13th member–Demerdjian said–was not present for the vote but had indicated he opposed Djeredjian’s candidacy. "Eight members voted for Djeredjian and five voted against–which means he did not secure approval.

"Djeredjian didn’t abide by the central committee’s instructions to support the administration of President Emile Lahoud and decided to run on Hariri’s list without consulting the Central Committee," Demerdjian was quoted as saying.

However–the party source disputed the claim–saying that the absent member did not–in fact–indicate that he opposed the candidacy or delegate his vote.

After the controversial poll–Hunchak Party organizations have issued statemen’s of support for Djeredjian’s candidacy. Observers say the socialist Hunchak Party has seen internal dissent in recent years due to Djeredjian’s loyalty to Hariri. Interim committee member Mehran Seferian–is seen as close to Prime Minister Salim Hoss.

All three Armenian parties are traditionally inclined to supporting the government in elections–but the Hunchak and Ramgavar parties’ leaderships have opted to ally with Hariri–who represents the opposition–in 2000.

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