Paruyr Hayrikian, a presidential candidate who was shot and wounded by unknown assailants last week, said on Monday that he has still not decided whether to seek a two-week postponement of Armenia’s February 18 presidential election.
Hayrikian has sent conflicting signals about his intentions since being able to speak to journalists at a Yerevan hospital where he is recovering from a gunshot wound sustained on Thursday. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Friday, he indicated that he expects an election delay because of his inability to campaign. Other media outlets quoted him as saying, however, that he wants the upcoming ballot to be held as planned.
Under the Armenian constitution, a presidential election must be postponed by two weeks if one of the candidates faces “insurmountable obstacles.” A corresponding decision has to be made by the Constitutional Court at the candidate’s request.
Hayrikian said on Monday that he will announce his final decision on Tuesday. “Until this morning I was clearly intent on not delaying [the election] by a single day,” he told reporters. “But I now have to listen to specialists.
“If a specialist asks me whether I accept the simultaneous presence of terrorism and democratic principles and whether they are compatible with each other, I will certainly say, ‘No, they are not.’ And in that case, he will ask, ‘How come you are saying that nothing must be changed?’”
“From that standpoint, one should weigh up things, and today we are holding special research to determine whether we have the right to say that this has not substantially influenced process,” Hayrikian said, adding that he also needs to consult with other presidential contenders.
Some opposition candidates, notably Hrant Bagratian, have publicly advocated an election delay.
President Serzh Sarkisian, widely regarded as the election favorite, signaled on Monday his desire to see the election go ahead on February 18. “We must carry on with our work without any disruption because the purpose of the crime was to disrupt the normal course of our elections, but I am confident that we, together with you, together with my team, together with our fellow citizens will not allow that,” he said at a campaign rally in Masis, a small town 20 kilometers south of Yerevan.
Sarkisian also stressed that further pre-election developments will be in line with the Armenian constitution. “As a guarantor of that constitution, I promise you that all processes will correspond to the letter and spirit of Armenia’s constitution,” he said.