By Shakeh Avoyan
Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s possible participation in the upcoming presidential elections could scuttle his successor Robert Kocharian’s plans to win a second term in office, one of his longtime associates claimed on Wednesday.
Hrant Bagratian, who served as prime minister from 1993-96, argued that the former and current presidents would be vying for the support of the same electorate and Kocharian would lose many votes as a result. Other major opposition candidates would therefore be the main beneficiaries of Ter-Petrosian’s political comeback, he added.
Bagratian, who remains a staunch supporter of the ex-president, at claimed that he does not know whether the latter will contest the February 19 polls. “I have never talked with Ter-Petrosian about that topic,” he told reporters.
Bagratian and other senior members of Armenia’s former leadership, who are not represented in the current government and parliament, hope that Ter-Petrosian’s emergence from a five-year political oblivion would boost their clout. The ex-president has reportedly told them to seek the support of other opposition forces for his possible presidential run.
But none of those forces have expressed readiness to endorse Ter-Petrosian. Some of them share Bagratian’s belief that his participation in the elections would play into the opposition hands by making it impossible for Kocharian to avoid a run-off vote with one remaining challenger.
Bagratian said the mainstream opposition and Kocharian share a “hatred” toward Ter-Petrosian and his comrades-in-arms.