Levon Ter-Petrosian did not retire from active politics with his decision not to run in the upcoming presidential election, a top aide to the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Wednesday.
“It was only a decision not to nominate his candidacy,” Levon Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “He is staying in politics. The struggle of the last five years is continuing and the [opposition] movement will keep doing its job together with Ter-Petrosian.”
“Many would like to portray that as the end of his political activities. That’s not the case,” added Zurabian.
Ter-Petrosian, who will turn 68 next month, announced his decision in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday. He said he is now too old to seek the post of president.
The HAK is due to announce on Thursday whether it will nominate another presidential candidate or endorse a contender representing different opposition forces. Zurabian, who coordinates the HAK’s day-to-day activities, said the bloc’s leadership is still considering its options. But he noted that those discussions “cannot last long.”
Zurabian also acknowledged that Ter-Petrosian’s exit from the presidential race upset some of his supporters and allies. But he ruled out a mass exodus of members from the HAK. “Within the movement there is a clear, united and healthy core that probably represents 90 percent of the movement’s potential,” he said.
Zurabian also said that the HAK will resume its rallies in Yerevan “at some point” in the near future. “After all, we must not forget that Armenia is facing very serious challenges,” he said.
Several prominent members of the HAK have quit the bloc or openly disagreed with Ter-Petrosian’s political strategy in the course of this year. One of them, former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian, plans to run for president on his own.