By Astghik Bedevian
Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian indicated on Friday that he will again try to run for president despite not being considered eligible by the Armenian authorities for the election due early next year.
The U.S.-born politician was been barred from participating in the previous presidential election on the grounds that he had been granted Armenian citizenship by President Robert Kocharian in 2001. The Central Election Commission cited a constitutional provision whereby only those individuals who have been Armenian citizens and permanently resided in the country for at least ten years preceding a presidential election can contest it.
Hovannisian, who had moved to Armenia from California in 1990, has always dismissed this justification, saying his repeated citizenship applications had for years been illegally ignored by Kocharian and his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian.
“There are all the legal and political grounds to grant me citizenship dating back to the day when the Republic of Armenia was declared [an independent state,]” he insisted on Friday. “Everything else is political expediency.”
The Zharangutyun leader said he is therefore likely to again file for registration with the CEC when the presidential race officially gets underway. “Every day God gives us an opportunity to review our past and correct our mistakes,” he said. “I think that the acting president and the prime minister have an opportunity to correct their mistake and create equal opportunities with a new decree.”
Observers believe that the CEC will almost certainly again refuse to register Hovannisian as a presidential candidate, especially considering his party’s better-than-expected performance in the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Hovannisian said he is prepared for such a development and may endorse another presidential hopeful if his registration bid is turned down. But he declined to name potential Zharangutyun-backed candidates.