By Armen Zakarian
Armenia’s leading political groups cooperating with President Robert Kocharian on Thursday refrained from committing themselves to supporting his reelection bid in the 2003 elections. The parliamentary parties, asked to comment on Kocharian’s decision to seek a second five-year term, said they will formulate a stance only in the run-up to the vote.
Kocharian made the announcement late last week, defying opposition calls for his ouster. The move marked the start of his active preparations for the next presidential race.
“The elections are still a long way off and we have a lot of time to think about our position,” said Aghvan Vartanian, a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnkatsutyun), one of the main presidential allies. Despite criticizing some government policies and the rampant corruption, the nationalist party remains largely supportive of the head of state. But its endorsement of Kocharian does not appear to be a forgone conclusion.
The parliamentary leader of the governing Republican Party (HHK), Galust Sahakian, declined to comment on whether or not the HHK will back Kocharian in the next elections. Leaders of two non-partisan parliamentary groups, People’s Deputy and Hayastan, were also evasive in their answers.
Hayastan brings together lawmakers affiliated with the once powerful Yerkrapah Union of Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans. Some of them openly support Armenia’s three leading opposition parties which joined forces last week to demand the president’s impeachment. The People’s Party of Armenia, the National Unity and Hanrapetutyun parties say they are working on a document listing alleged violations of the constitution committed by Kocharian.