The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Tuesday that it is continuing to consider ways of its participation in the upcoming presidential election despite its leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s withdrawal from the race.
Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s parliamentary leader, declined to comment on implications of Ter-Petrosian’s statement. “We think that there is no need to comment on Levon Ter-Petrosian’s statement,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Asked whether the HAK will now back another presidential candidate, Zurabian said the leadership of the opposition alliance is continuing to discuss possible formats of its participation in the vote scheduled for February 18.
One senior HAK figure, former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian, has already announced his intention to run for president with or without the bloc’s backing. Bagratian’s Azatutyun (Freedom) party, one of more than a dozen opposition groups aligned in the HAK, formally nominated his candidacy on Monday, the day before the announcement of Ter-Petrosian’s decision.
Bagratian reaffirmed his presidential bid after that announcement. He also refused to comment on Ter-Petrosian’s move.
“I have had conversations with [Ter-Petrosian] on more than one occasion in recent months,” Bagratian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I have insisted on more than one occasion that our paths will not cross and that I would withdraw my candidacy in his favor. I haven’t done anything secretly.”
According to Zurabian, the HAK leadership has not discussed the possibility of endorsing the outspoken ex-premier.
Many HAK members and supporters hoped that Ter-Petrosian will make another presidential bid despite a visible decline in his popularity since 2008. The Conservative Party, another HAK faction, decided to leave the alliance on Tuesday.
Ter-Petrosian’s exit was also discussed by the leadership of another HAK party, Democratic Fatherland. The party’s leader, Petros Makeyan, said it will remain part of the HAK for now.
“The atmosphere is gloomy but not hopeless,” Makeyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Life is not over.”