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Opposition Splinter Group Says Support For Sarkisian ‘Not Ruled Out’


Armenia -- Suren Abrahamian, a member of the Hanrapetutiun party, at a press conference in Yerevan, 08Oct2012

Armenia -- Suren Abrahamian, a member of the Hanrapetutiun party, at a press conference in Yerevan, 08Oct2012

A senior member of a political party that quit the main opposition alliance earlier this year has not ruled out supporting President Serzh Sarkisian if the incumbent faces his predecessor in next year’s presidential election.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday former Interior Minister Suren Abrahamian, who is a senior member of the Hanrapetutyun party, said, however, that they did not have a decision yet on whether to field their own candidate or back another nomination in the forthcoming race.

“If we face a dilemma… when Robert Kocharian enters the arena revealing the whole of himself and not just his ears, then it [supporting Sarkisian] will become something to consider,” explained Abrahamian.

Hanrapetutyun quit the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) after the parliamentary elections last May. Aram Sarkisian [no relation to the president], the leader of the party, also renounced his seat in the newly elected National Assembly that he won on the HAK election slate.

Sarkisian, whose party was a key member of the HAK since its establishment in 2008 and earlier in the opposition movement launched by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian ahead of the presidential election five years ago, then also confirmed media reports about his deepening differences with the alliance’s leader as well as members of his entourage. He said the differences with Ter-Petrosian emerged in the spring of 2011 and centered on domestic and foreign policy issues.

Hanrapetutyun’s Abrahamian, meanwhile, informed the media that his party would spend the time until late November “analyzing the situation, touring the provinces and holding meetings there”, which, he said, would lead to the decision on whether they nominate their leader as a presidential candidate in 2013.

“In any case we will be active, be it through our own candidate or supporting another candidate,” said the Hanrapetutyun representative.

Many political analysts in Armenia regard the recent developments around Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) member Vartan Oskanian, who is being prosecuted on money laundering charges after controversially losing his parliamentary immunity last week, as a sign of former president Robert Kocharian’s contemplating a return to active politics through the BHK, a party believed to be his brainchild and potential political support base in the event of his election bid in the future.

Kocharian issued an unusually strong-worded statement last week denouncing the case against Oskanian, who served as foreign minister throughout his ten-year presidency in 1998-2008, and is regarded as his confidant. The ex-leader also expressed his disappointment with the law-enforcement agencies and the parliament, which is dominated by President Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

The Hanrapetutyun party member, however, dismissed the standoff between the two “establishment forces” as a “well-orchestrated affair” aimed at ensuring Sarkisian’s smooth reelection. He said people would tend to forget about the real opposition witnessing a staged fight between the BHK and the HHK.

Abrahamian also suggested that Sarkisian will favorably compare to Kocharian in their hypothetical runoff next year and people, again taken for a ride, will then choose to vote for “the lesser of two evils”.
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