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Opposition Bloc ‘Open’ To Other Presidential Candidates


Armenia - Levon Zurabian (R), Aram Manukian (C) and other deputies from the Armenian National Congress attend a parliament session, Yerevan, 20Jun2012.

Armenia - Levon Zurabian (R), Aram Manukian (C) and other deputies from the Armenian National Congress attend a parliament session, Yerevan, 20Jun2012.

The Armenian National Congress (HAK) is trying to drum up broad-based opposition support for its leader Levon Ter-Petrosian but is ready, in principle, to back other presidential candidates, a senior member of the bloc indicated on Monday.

Aram Manukian said the HAK is now “entirely focused” on creating a “favorable situation” for Ter-Petrosian’s participation in Armenia’s next presidential election slated for February.

“Our entire team is trying to create an environment for Levon Ter-Petrosian to nominate his candidacy,” Manukian told a news conference. “We want … to come to a conclusion with other political forces that he should run.”

“If that doesn’t happen, any option can be discussed, both inside and outside the HAK,” he said.

Manukian declined to name potential presidential candidates that could enjoy the bloc’s backing. Asked whether the HAK is ready to throw its weight behind a candidate nominated by Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), he said, “I don’t answer hypothetical questions. We are doing everything to ensure that [Ter-Petrosian] runs. We’ll see what happens later.”

Still, Manukian, who is the secretary of the HAK’s 7-strong parliamentary faction, did call for “cooperation” of political groups striving for regime change in the country. “If the BHK has some support and stands for an opposition or anti-government coalition, I welcome that,” he said.

Levon Zurabian, a top Ter-Petrosian aide, said late last month that the BHK and the HAK should join forces to unseat President Serzh Sarkisian in the upcoming presidential election. Zurabian said Tsarukian and his reputed political patron, former President Robert Kocharian, will be forced to leave the political arena and lose their “vast financial resources” if Sarkisian wins reelection.

Several other prominent HAK figures are strongly opposed to the idea of an electoral alliance between the two forces. They point to Tsarukian’s reputedly close ties to Kocharian, the man who ordered a deadly crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election.
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