According to "Iravunk," Robert Kocharian's chief of staff, Artashes Tumanian, believes that the Armenian president will be the strongest candidate contesting the February election. Tumanian says Kocharian, who has no party of his own, will not rely only on loyal parties in his bid to win a second term. "He can also rely on other forces. And those forces can be circles representing the economy," he explains. "Why shouldn't he? Is there anything that makes them unimportant? How can you sidestep them? It's better to have them on board than otherwise."
"Yerkir" finds it "strange" that some opposition leaders did not attend the independence day reception given by Kocharian on September 21. This, says the weekly newspaper of Dashnaktsutyun, is proof of the "unhealthy atmosphere" reigning in Armenia. At the same time the paper claims that for all their differences and mutual distrust, all Armenian parties are interested in having free and fair elections and preserving political stability.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" is appalled by the programs of 16 opposition parties making up a loose coalition. The anti-Kocharian paper terms those parties "reactionary."
"Yerkir" writes that it is not just the authorities and their supporters that attack the 16 opposition parties. The former ruling HHSh and its satellites are also openly disdainful of the anti-Kocharian alliance. This is so because "the former regime" has realized that they will not support former President Levon Ter-Petrosian's return to power.
"Iravunk" sees mounting friction between two of the opposition leaders: Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian. In an interview with the paper, another prominent member of "the alliance of 16," Albert Bazeyan, appears resigned to the opposition's anticipated failure to put forward a single presidential candidate. Bazeyan says the authorities can always find covert allies running for president on an opposition platform.
Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian assures "Hayots Ashkhar" that the government "will not interfere" in the October 20 local elections. Abrahamian says he spoke for only himself when he endorsed the incumbent mayor of Gyumri, Vartan Ghukasian. He stresses that the governing Republican Party has not yet made a decision in that regard. Turning to the presidential election, Abrahamian says he "will do everything" to help Kocharian win another five-year term.