By Karine Kalantarian
Raffi Hovannisian, the U.S.-born former foreign minister, suffered another setback in court on Wednesday which all but exhausted his possibilities of running in next month’s Armenian presidential elections.
The Armenian Review Court upheld a lower court ruling that rejected Hovannisian’s demand for a ten-year retroactive citizenship which would make him eligible to contest the polls. The court rejected the former U.S. national’s claims that his citizenship applications were illegally ignored by the authorities from 1991 through 2001 when he was finally granted an Armenian passport.
The widely expected verdict followed the Central Election Commission’s refusal to register Hovannisian as a presidential candidates along with 11 other nominees. His lawyers said they will now appeal to the Court of Appeals, the highest body of criminal and administrative justice in Armenia.
However, the former minister’s aides held out little hope for a successful outcome of their court action. His spokesman, Ashot Aghababian, told RFE/RL that Hovannisian will likely endorse another opposition candidate and plans to announce his decision early next week.
Hovannisian’s disqualification has been condemned by Armenia’s leading opposition parties. They accuse the CEC of using double standards, saying that President Robert Kocharian has also not been an Armenian national for the past ten years.