By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Vahan Hovannisian, a top leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), on Friday stopped short of denying a newspaper report that it is keen to form an electoral alliance with two prominent opposition leaders.
According to the “Zhamanak Yerevan” newspaper, Dashnaktsutyun has offered Raffi Hovannisian and Vazgen Manukian high-ranking government position in return for their endorsement of its presidential candidate. The paper claimed that Manukian would become prime minister and Hovannisian foreign minister in the event of Dashnaktsutyun’s victory in the February 19 election.
Dashnaktsutyun leaders have held election-related consultations with both opposition figures, who intend to run for president, in recent days.
Hovannisian, who is one the pro-establishment party’s two potential presidential nominees, was asked by RFE/RL to comment on the report: “We are discussing with various political forces the entire course of the presidential elections and what needs to be done after them, but there are no such agreements,” he said.
Manukian flatly denied the report. “Such issues have never been discussed,” he said.
Manukian added that he and the Dashnaktsutyun candidate could well endorse each other only if one of them makes it to the possible second round of voting. Hovannisian found such a development to be “within the bonds of logic,” saying that his party had already supported the leader of the opposition National Democratic Union (AZhM) in the 1996 presidential election.
“He has reason to think so,” said the Dashnaktsutyun candidate.
Both Manukian and the Dashnaktsutyun leadership have been at pain to stress that the upcoming presidential ballot must not be a two-horse race between Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Hovannisian, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment. A parliament deputy from his Zharangutyun Party, said a power-sharing offer from Dashnaktsutyun is “possible.” “But I have no information regarding such agreement,” Safarian told RFE/RL.
(Photolur photo: Vahan Hovannisian.)