By Armen Zakarian
In a rare public appearance, Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian kept up on Thursday the long-running uncertainty surrounding his possible participation in the upcoming presidential despite persistent calls by his supporters.
Ter-Petrosian spent about five hours at a conference of his Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), but did not utter a single word, keeping more than 350 delegates in the dark. Some of them expressed their frustration at their revered leader’s reluctance to seek a return to power.
“You must run for president,” said one HHSh activist. “We demand it, the people demand it. Even if you deem your participation unnecessary, you are obliged to make your case.”
Ter-Petrosian also politely dodged similar questions from reporters as they approached him in the conference lobby, maintaining his nearly five-year moratorium on interviews.
Some sources close to Ter-Petrosian told RFE/RL this week that he will not after all join the presidential race despite strong pressure from his loyalists. It was expected that the decision will be announced at the HHSh conference.
However, the issue was not even placed on its agenda. Party leaders said their presidential candidate will be put forward by the HHSh’s newly elected governing board, rather than its congress. This strategy was criticized by one of the HHSh’s veteran figures and possible presidential nominees, former National Security Minister David Shahnazarian.
“We are holding a congress without deciding on the most important decision preoccupying the country’s citizens,” Shahnazarian complained in his speech.
The official deadline for the nomination of presidential candidates is December 6.