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By Anna Saghabalian
A prominent opposition member on Friday dropped hints that he might support the presidential bid of Armenia’s ex-leader in next year’s election.

Stepan Demirchian, of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), in particular said he was not inclined to stand for president in the February 19 vote as he saw “no prospect of winning” for candidates contesting the election separately. In this sense, he called for a continued consolidation effort of the opposition to field a single candidate for presidency.

Along with several other opposition members, Demirchian attended former president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s rally last month on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the October 27 parliamentary killings that also claimed the life of his father, Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian. However, unlike the rest of the speakers, including Hanrapetutyun party leader Aram Sarkisian, the brother of the assassinated prime minister, he did not expressly state his and his political party’s support for Ter-Petrosian’s presidential run declared at the rally.

Less than a week after the rally, Ter-Petrosian visited the headquarters of Demirchian’s party where he met him and dozens of party activists in an apparent bid to secure their support for his presidential bid.

While saying that the HZhK will voice its final position only during a party congress due to be held by the end of November, Demirchian devoted a large part of his meeting with the media on Friday to the discussion of reasons for the opposition to rally around Ter-Petrosian.

“Levon Ter-Petrosian has a potential for consolidating [the opposition]. Many political forces and intellectuals have already voiced their support for him,” he said. “I think Ter-Petrosian will be quite a strong candidate and the main struggle will be waged between him and the government candidate.”

Demirchian did not rule out that new forces might join the ranks of Ter-Petrosian supporters in the run-up to the election or before a possible runoff.

“There are candidates who think that there is sure to be a runoff election,” he said. “But taking into consideration the reality of our days, we think we must opt for consolidation from the very beginning.”

Demirchian acknowledged that some mistakes were made during Ter-Petrosian’s presidency in 1991-1998 but said those were “unavoidable”.

“After all, we won a war during Ter-Petrosian’s presidency,” he concluded.
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