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Bako Sahakian, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, is unlikely seek another term in the next presidential election due in 2020, a retired Karabakh army general currently allied to him said on Friday.

“I don’t think that the current president will run in 2020,” said Vitali Balasanian, the secretary of Karabakh’s Security Council.

“It’s up to him to decide. But my personal view is that I can’t imagine that,” Balasanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Stepanakert.

Earlier this week, the Karabakh parliament controversially extended Sahakian’s rule by electing him as the unrecognized republic’s interim president. He will serve at least until Karabakh completes in 2020 its transition to a fully presidential system of government in line with a new constitution enacted earlier this year.

The previous constitution barred Sahakian from seeking a third term. But under the current one, he can run in the next presidential election slated for 2020. The Karabakh leader has not ruled out his participation in the vote, fueling more criticism of his constitutional reform by local opposition figures.

Asked whether he himself could run for president in 2020, Balasanian said: “Time will tell. It’s too early say yes or no now.”

A former deputy commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army, Balasanian was the main opposition candidate in the last presidential election held in 2012. Official election results gave him around 33 percent of the vote, compared with more than 66 percent polled by Sahakian.

Balasanian described the election as “free but not fair” at the time, accusing the incumbent of abusing administrative resources. He agreed to become the secretary of Sahakian’s Security Council last year.

The 58-year-old retired general is one of Karabakh’s most prominent veterans of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan. He commanded Karabakh Armenians forces in the eastern Askeran district throughout the war.

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