“Orran” classifies the Armenian presidential candidates into several categories. Robert Kocharian, the paper says, is one of those politicians for whom participation in the elections is a “vital issue” and who “will go right to the end” in their bid to win the presidency. “Otherwise, an eventful and exciting future fraught with unpredictable consequences will await him.” Kocharian’s defeat is vital for Aram Sarkisian, the former prime minister. Raffi Hovannisian and Stepan Demirchian form the second category. They sincerely believe that the elections can be free and fair and hope to win them. The third, final category, includes those politicians for whom the electoral process is an opportunity for “petty intrigues.”
“Aravot” says the elections pose a serious dilemma for independent journalists. On the one hand, they have no reason to like the current authorities. “On the other hand, it is impossible not to see that those authorities do not have serious rivals in the current opposition…The situation is such that we are deprived of a choice. The only thing the public has failed to understand is that the people, not the authorities, are to blame for the existing hopeless political situation and the absence of an alternative in particular.”
“We -- the people, the voters, the citizens -- are the only force that can restrain [the rulers’] narcisstic ambitions,” “Aravot” continues. “We are their employers. That means it is meaningless to expect some apostles who will be more honest and clever. We are the ones who must force them to be like that.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the authorities hope that Artashes Geghamian will be Kocharian’s main election challenger. If Geghamian is outperformed by another opposition leader, Kocharian will fail to win in the first round and will suffer a “crushing defeat” in the second round. Geghamian’s decision to form a separate alliance with the Communists put Demirchian and Aram Sarkisian in a difficult position. The paper wonders how they will deal with that challenge.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also claims that the authorities have made a “political decision” not to register Raffi Hovannisian as a presidential candidate. It says the Interior Ministry will not certify that Hovannisian has been an Armenian citizen for the last ten years. But Kocharian, who many oppositionists believe also does not meet that requirement, will get such a document.
“Aravot” says that by agreeing to manage Kocharian’s election campaign Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is “instructing the military personnel to strive to vote for his boss.” The paper dismisses Sarkisian’s arguments that Armenian law does not prevent him from performing that role. He is, after all, the country’s top military commander and should have followed his predecessor Vazgen Sarkisian’s example. The latter was not “de jure” involved in the Kocharian’s 1998 campaign.