By Astghik Bedevian
President Robert Kocharian’s decision to support Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the forthcoming presidential elections is “natural” even if it is not good for Armenia, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Wednesday.
“It would be good and right for the country, if Robert Kocharian supported our [presidential] candidate,” said Armen Rustamian. “But naturally, if Serzh Sarkisian runs, Robert Kocharian will back his candidacy. After all, the two men have long worked together and are much closer to each other.”
Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, made it clear on September that the Armenian leader considers Sarkisian, his longtime close ally, to be is his worthiest successor. “It is obvious that there is no other politician in Armenia who has that much experience and is capable of performing [presidential] duties,” said Soghomonian.
Dashnaktsutyun clearly disagrees with this, despite being represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet by three ministers and having closely cooperated with his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The pro-Kocharian party has regularly criticized the state of affairs in the country, most recently during a congress held in Nagorno-Karabakh over the weekend. In a statement, it deplored Armenians’ “growing alienation from and disappointment with the authorities and political forces.”
Hrant Markarian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, told RFE/RL after the gathering that Sarkisian’s victory in the presidential elections would be bad for Armenia as it would mean that virtually all branches of government are controlled by a single individual. Rustamian echoed this assertion at a news conference.
“If the same political force controls everything, who will serve as its counterweight?” Who will deter it?” he said.
Rustamian also insisted that the congress’s decision to delay the nomination of Dashnaktsutyun’s presidential candidate was not a pre-election ploy designed to keep the HHK and other political forces guessing about the party’s real intentions. “It’s a normal practice for all open and democratic parties and we just want to adhere to it, ” he said of delegates’ decision to approve a shortlist of two potential candidates.
Those are Rustamian and deputy parliament speaker Vahan Hovannisian. Dashnaktsutyun said it will hold another conference in November to pick one of them.
(Photolur photo: Armen Rustamian.)