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Ex-Oppositionists Back Sarkisian’s Reelection


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (second from right) attends the presentation of a new book by pro-government MP Artashes Geghamian (C), Yerevan, 20Dec2012.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (second from right) attends the presentation of a new book by pro-government MP Artashes Geghamian (C), Yerevan, 20Dec2012.

Two former Armenian opposition parties led by veteran politicians on Monday confirmed that they support President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection plans.

The National Accord Party of Artashes Geghamian and Hayk Babukhanian’s Union for Constitutional Rights had for years been in opposition to successive Armenian governments, of which Sarkisian was a key member.

Geghamian and Babukhanian pledged allegiance to Sarkisian when he succeeded Robert Kocharian as president in 2008. They both were elected to parliament in last month’s elections on the ruling Republican Party’s ticket.

Commenting on the upcoming presidential election, Geghamian pointed out that he first voiced support for the incumbent president’s reelection in February 2012 and reaffirmed that statement last month. He said his party will therefore support Sarkisian in next month’s ballot.

Geghamian, who was a major opposition presidential candidate in 2003, radically changed his political orientation in 2008 despite a history of mutual animosity with Sarkisian. The two men have publicly traded insults in the past.

Armenia - Hayk Babukhanian, the leader of the pro-government Union for Constitutional Rights party, at a press conference in Yerevan, 20Dec2012.

Armenia - Hayk Babukhanian, the leader of the pro-government Union for Constitutional Rights party, at a press conference in Yerevan, 20Dec2012.

Sarkisian personally attended two book presentations organized by the former oppositionist in 2012.

Babukhanian, another former bitter critic of Sarkisian and Kocharian, revealed that his SIM party officially voiced support for the incumbent’s candidacy last month. He said Sarkisian’s five-year presidency has been a success.

Babukhanian singled out Sarkisian’s foreign policy and, in particular, his Western-backed attempt to improve Armenia’s relations with Turkey. “The president of the country has succeeded in turning Armenia into a Premier League player, so to speak,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Babukhanian admitted that Sarkisian has not delivered on some of his socioeconomic promises but blamed that on the 2008-2009 global financial crisis which hit Armenia hard. “As for the economy, yes there were good programs that [have not been fulfilled,]” he said. “But the global crisis is not a joke. And people migrated abroad for work five, twenty and fifty years ago.”
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