By Anna Saghabalian
Levon Ter-Petrosian, Armenia’s former president, will return to active politics to participate in the presidential election of 2008, the leader of an opposition party strongly supporting him claimed on Friday.
“I think that Ter-Petrosian will definitely participate in the presidential elections as a candidate,” said Ararat Zurabian of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh). “That will completely change the existing situation in Armenia.”
Zurabian clarified that he is expressing his personal view and that he has not discussed the issue with Ter-Petrosian.
The HHSh leader had made a similar forecast in advance of the last presidential ballot held in 2003. However, the reclusive ex-president, who has kept an extremely low profile ever since his resignation in 1998, chose not to contest the vote, mindful of his continuing lack of popularity. He has so far left no indication that his emergence from political oblivion is imminent.
Zurabian said that the HHSh, of which Ter-Petrosian remains the unofficial top leader, will field a presidential candidate in 2008 “in any case.” He also did not rule out the possibility of forming alliances with other pro-Western forces opposed to President Robert Kocharian ahead of next year’s Armenian parliamentary elections.
Some of those groups also sympathize with Ter-Petrosian but have an uneasy rapport with the current HHSh leadership dominated by loyalists of the fugitive former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian. Their leaders, notably former parliament speaker Babken Ararktsian, recently renewed their calls for the reunification of Ter-Petrosian supporters and their joint participation in the 2007 polls. But analysts are skeptical about the likelihood of such an alliance, pointing to lingering mutual antipathy among the leaders of the HHSh and dissident factions that have split from the once powerful party at various times.
(Photolur photo: Ararat Zurabian.)