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Kocharian Again Predicts Two-Horse Election Race


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian meets with supporters, Yerevan, April 21, 2021.

Former President Robert Kocharian has again expressed confidence that an emerging opposition force led by him will be Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s principal challenger in parliamentary elections expected in June.

“I am conscious of the fact that I will be the main target [of Pashinian’s attacks] and am proud of having deserved this regime’s hatred,” Kocharian told supporters at an indoor meeting held earlier this week.

“The elections will be bipolar,” he said in remarks publicized on Friday. “What the authorities are doing now with regard to me or a possible alliance to be led by me is propaganda directed at me. They are thereby contributing to the formation of this pole.”

Kocharian again accused Pashinian of misrule and incompetence which he said led to Armenia’s defeat in last year’s in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It’s going to be like that on all fronts. The government dodging responsibility must be stripped of power as soon as possible,” he said.

Alen Simonian, a deputy parliament speaker and close Pashinian associate, shrugged off the ex-president’s claims, saying that the ruling political team does not regard him as a major election contender. His chances of returning to power are “very slim,” Simonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Simonian said this is why Kocharian has failed to cobble together a broad-based electoral alliance. He argued that opposition groups such as businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the former ruling Republican Party have declined to team up with the ex-president.

Kocharian did not shed light on the composition of his bloc. He said only that it will start campaigning immediately Pashinian steps down to pave the way for the early elections aimed at ending the post-war political crisis in Armenia.

The Yerevan daily Hraparak claimed on Friday that Pashinian is again having second thoughts about holding the elections after visiting southeastern Syunik province and facing angry protests there on Wednesday. It said he is now negotiating with Tsarukian on the possibility of cancelling the vote and striking a power-sharing deal instead.

Lilit Makunts, the parliamentary leader of Pashinian’s My Step bloc, denied the newspaper report. “There have been no discussions on election cancellation not only with other parties but also within our political team,” she told journalists.

Another senior My Step lawmaker, Nazeli Baghdasarian, said Pashinian will likely tender his pre-election resignation next week.

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