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By Astghik Bedevian

Armenia’s former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian has won a unanimous approval of his political party to stand for president in next year’s election.

During an extraordinary meeting on Monday, Orinats Yerkir confirmed the decision of the party’s governing board to nominate their leader as a presidential candidate in the February 19 vote.

Baghdasarian has already received proof of his 10-year citizenship and permanent residence in Armenia from the police’s visa and passport department. He is likely to submit documents necessary for registration as a candidate to the Central Election Commission before the deadline on Thursday.

Orinats Yerkir vice-chairman Heghine Bisharian, who will coordinate Baghdasarian’s election campaign, accused the authorities of “improving their own well-being only”, as a result of which, according to her, “people richer than the state have emerged in the country.”

“It is the people’s demand to see a new kind of leader and that leader is Artur Baghdasarian,” Bisharian stated in her speech that was often interrupted by rapturous applause of her fellow party members.

In his acceptance speech, Baghdasarian expressed his resolve to participate in the elections in order to win.

“True, it is important to win in presidential elections, but the victory must never be gained through mass bribing of people and large-scale electoral crimes,” Baghdasarian said.

Baghdasarian also explained why he and his party would not support ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s election bid.

“Not only because we don’t consider the country to be a gangster state. Appreciating Ter-Petrosian’s contribution to the establishment of our statehood, we are against his approach of totaly dismantling of the state and legal system,” he said.

In an earlier interview with RFE/RL, Baghdasarian predicted that the election would be held in two rounds. He said that despite the multitude of presidential candidates, the main selection would be made only between a few of them.

“We need a legitimate president in Armenia elected neither through labels nor barbed wires,” Baghdasarian said.
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