By Karine KalantarianOutgoing President Robert Kocharian urged his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian to stop disputing the official results of Armenia’s presidential election and again threatened to forcibly disperse opposition crowds demonstrating in Yerevan on a daily basis.
The warning came as he discussed possible post-election scenarios during a meeting with a group of university students of Yerevan State University.
Kocharian said the most “logical” of those scenarios would be for Ter-Petrosian to tell thousands of his supporters camped in the city’s Liberty Square to go home, recognize Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s election victory and plead for a “lenient treatment” of his loyalists arrested over the past week. He said the 63-year-old former scholar should also again retire from active politics and set about writing “yet another scientific paper.”
“The longer they try to keep the people in the Theater Square, the greater the disappointment of those people will be,” Kocharian said, using the Soviet-era name of the square in front of Yerevan’s Opera House. “This is a deadlock and that deadlock will primarily discredit those who are now trying to use this tool.”
Kocharian said the Armenian government is ready to “patiently wait until that theatrical show dies down.” But he said law-enforcement authorities may also use force to “clear the square.” He also warned Ter-Petrosian and his associates will end up in jail for “many years” if they attempt to seize key government buildings.
The departing Armenian leader will formally complete his second and final term in office on April 9, and he was asked by one of the students what he plans to do afterwards. “Yes, I am young. Yes, I am energetic. But I don’t know what I will be doing,” he said.
“We’ll see. Things should clear up after a few months,” added Kocharian.