By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian insisted on Monday that he has not yet decided to endorse any of Armenia’s presidential candidates despite claims to the contrary made by some of them.
One candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, claimed on Friday that Hovannisian and another opposition leader, Artur Baghdasarian, have agreed to back his presidential bid. Baghdasarian, who is also running for president, left open at the weekend the possibility of his endorsement by Ter-Petrosian and the popular leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.
Speaking to RFE/RL and Noyan Tapan news agency, Hovannisian admitted negotiating with both opposition candidates but said the talks have yielded no definitive results yet. In his words, Zharangutyun will make a final decision on the matter by the end of this week.
“I am glad that everyone is speaking up and making presumptions,” said the U.S.-born politician. “But nobody has grounds to make statements on behalf of the Zharangutyun party.”
Zharangutyun’s leadership indicated last month that the party will not throw its weight behind any of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s four main challengers unless at least one of them pulls out of the race if favor of another candidate.
Hovannisian, who himself is not eligible for the Armenian presidency, said this remains the main precondition for his party’s direct involvement in the election. “No matter how much public support candidates have separately, it is impossible to achieve victory in the existing conditions,” he said.
“Armenia needs a big and long-term unification [of opposition forces,] rather than yet another short-term unification,” added Hovannisian