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By Karine Kalantarian

Armenia’s leading opposition parties that formed a united front against President Robert Kocharian two months ago have yet to consider their possible candidates for next year’s presidential elections, one of their leaders said on Friday.

The 13 parties that joined forces in early April have said previously that they will try to reach an agreement on who should challenge Kocharian’s bid to win another five-year term in office. The announcement was made at the height of their campaign of street protests against the authorities.

But according to Shavarsh Kocharian (no relation to the president) who leads the small National Democratic Party (AZhK), the loose opposition alliance has not even discussed any candidacies yet. Nor have its members worked out a program of actions for the rest of this year, he said.

He stressed that the opposition should agree on a joint candidate if it is to mount a serious challenge to the incumbent president in the elections due next March.

Among the most popular opposition figures are the People’s Party leader Stepan Demirchian, National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian and former prime minister Aram Sarkisian who now leads the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party.

Also popular is Artashes Geghamian, the outspoken leader of the National Accord party. However, Geghamian has conspicuously avoided any involvement in the recent opposition rallies. He has indicated that he will run for president even if most of the other opposition parties field a single candidate.
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