By Hrach Melkumian
A leader of an influential Armenian party supporting President Robert Kocharian visited on Saturday presidential candidate Artashes Geghamian in a further sign that the embattled incumbent is courting prominent opposition figures ahead of the March 5 run-off.
Geghamian, whom official results of Wednesday’s vote put in third place, told RFE/RL that he met with Vahan Hovannisian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) at his headquarters to discuss mounting political tensions in the country. “The subject of our conversation was the existing situation and my approaches to how to come out of it,” he said.
Geghamian, who officially won 17 percent of the vote, did not deny that both Kocharian and the top opposition candidate, Stepan Demirchian, are now seeking his support in their intensifying fight for the Armenian presidency. But he refused to go into details, reiterating his calls for a re-run of the presidential election.
“The solution is to annul the elections and call new ones,” Geghamian said, adding that it is the only way of defusing “the explosive situation.” He again accused Kocharian of rigging the vote, describing the reported irregularities as a “coup d’etat.”
Geghamian said his final position on the issue will be announced public on Monday. Hovannisian could not be reached for comment.
Local observers say that Kocharian and his allies are keen to keep the leader of the opposition National Unity party from endorsing Demirchian, something which would boost the latter’s chances of winning the second round.
The Demirchian camp, which has already secured pledges of allegiance from virtually all other major opposition forces, also claims that the February vote was marred by fraud, but does not insist on its scrapping.