YEREVAN — Former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) announced on Thursday its decision to seek an electoral alliance with another opposition party led by former National Security Service (NSS) Director Artur Vanetsyan.

The HHK and Vanetsyan’s Hayrenik (Fatherland) party have been affiliated with the Homeland Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition forces that tried and failed to topple  Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over his handling of last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The HHK until recently signaled its desire to boycott snap parliamentary elections expected in June, saying that they could be rigged by Pashinyan. But the former ruling party eventually decided against an election boycott at a meeting of its governing body headed by Sarkisian. In a statement, it cited the “vital need” to oust Pashinyan.

“Given the existing political realities, we believe that the Hayrenik party’s possible political cooperation is the most effective way to dethrone the capitulator [Pashinian,]” Armen Ashotyan, the HHK’s deputy chairman, told a news conference.

The HHK thus chose not to team up for now with Robert Kocharian, another former president who is expected to join forces with Dashnaktsutyun. Kocharian again said earlier this month that he will be Pashinyan’s main challenger.

Hayrenik did not immediately react to the HHK announcement. Vanetsyan founded the party a year ago after being relieved of his duties in September 2019r.

Vanetsyan, 42, was appointed as head of the NSS immediately the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Sarkisian and brought Pashinyan to power. He quickly became an influential member of Pashinyan’s entourage, overseeing high-profile corruption investigations into former government officials and Sarkisian’s relatives.

Ashotyan downplayed this fact and said the former security chief has cooperated with various opposition forces since his resignation.

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