The ninth congress of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Union over the weekend elected Vano Siradeghian as party leader, in place of Husik Ter-Lazarian, who had earlier announced his intention to step down. Siradeghian was the choice of President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who had squashed the candidacy of reformist Eduard Yeghorian at a preparatory conference of the party. The program of Petrosian-Siradeghian, envisaging a presidential party, easily prevailed at the weekend congress against the reformers’ concept of a "party partner to the president," which would also entitle the party to criticize the policies of the president and the government. In addition, the congress adopted a resolution calling for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict on the basis of the right of peoples to self-determination — a goal that commands virtual unanimous political support in Armenia.
Addressing the congress, Ter-Petrosian conceded that the APNU’s popularity had fallen owing to economic hardships, "poor discipline" by some state officials, and inadequate propaganda work. The president accused the opposition National-Democratic Union of aiming to seize power unlawfully through "revolution." Siradeghian pledged to pursue a dialogue with the opposition and generally to reduce political tensions in Armenian society. (Noyan-Tapan, July 11-12)
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