By Emil DanielyanOrinats Yerkir, a leading Armenian opposition party, on Thursday refused to support former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in the upcoming presidential election, saying that it will not reconsider its decision to field its leader Artur Baghdasarian’s candidacy.
Baghdasarian was among a dozen top opposition leaders whom Ter-Petrosian urged last week to endorse his candidacy and thereby help him topple the ruling “corrupt and criminal regime.”
The Orinats Yerkir leader has long had presidential ambitions and was never expected to pull out of the race in Ter-Petrosian’s favor. Aides say he believes that he is more popular that the ex-president whom he has supported in the past.
In a statement issued after a late-night meeting, the Orinats Yerkir leadership said it had already decided to nominate Baghdasarian for the presidency a month ago and will not reconsider that decision. At the same time the party said it is ready to work together with Ter-Petrosian and other opposition candidates in trying to ensure the freedom and fairness of the February 19 vote.
Orinats Yerkir, which is one of only two opposition groups represented in parliament, also endorsed two anti-fraud amendments to Armenia’s Election Code that were put forward by Ter-Petrosian at a rally on Friday. Baghdasarian’s party said the proposed changes will be incorporated into its own package of election-related amendments which will be submitted to the National Assembly soon.
The government-controlled assembly already amended the Election Code as recently as last week with the stated aim of further complicating vote rigging. The amendments were dismissed as insignificant by the Armenian opposition and some civic groups.
(Orinats Yerkir photo: Ter-Petrosian, left, and Baghdasarian, right, pictured during talks in October.)