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By Hovannes Shoghikian
More than two dozen political and public organizations have thrown their weight behind Armenia’s ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian to run for president in the February 2008 election.

Opposition Hanrapetutyun party leader Aram Sarkisian, who attended the meeting of the organizations on Friday, told RFE/RL that their purpose was to ensure Ter-Petrosian builds a solid support base to be nominated by civil initiative rather than by a political party.

“Civil groups for this purpose have already been formed and the aim of the meeting was to coordinate their efforts,” he said.

Andranik Hovakimian, who is vice-chairman of the board of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement party, said discussions at the meeting mainly focused on the need for the former president to be nominated. “A smaller group will be created in the time to come to formulate and present this initiative,” he said. “I suppose all those who had come to the meeting gathered around that very issue.”

Liberal-Progressive Party leader Hovannes Hovannisian said only a part of Ter-Petrosian supporters had attended the Friday meeting.

“All the speeches were threaded out and held together by the thought that the country needs changes and reforms, and all concluded that this change is only possible through building a serious support base for Ter-Petrosian’s return as president,” Hovannisian underscored.

He said no “history-making” decisions were made, but added: “We agreed on several practical steps. And the formed team will start political processes soon.”

Social-Democrat Hunchak Party Chairperson Lyudmila Sarkisian put Ter-Petrosian’s nomination beyond doubt and added: “We came to the conclusion that the authorities’ view that the opposition is not capable of uniting can be brought to nothing beginning today.”

“The goal is not Levon Ter-Petrosian. It is to have a normal country where our children will have a future. And today we see that this future can be offered by the team that is being formed and the candidate that this team will nominate. Today we see Levon Ter-Petrosian as Armenia’s next president,” she emphasized.

Leader of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) Stepan Demirchian did not personally attend the meeting, but had delegates attending it.

Talking to RFE/RL on Friday, Demirchian said his party would express its position later.
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