In separate statements, they described Kocharian as an experienced and competent leader who can confront grave security challenges still facing the country after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“I believe that in this situation we must support Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharian and all those forces that are fighting against the current authorities,” read the statement released by Gasparian on Friday, the last day of campaigning for the snap elections.
Gasparian accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian of trying to scapegoat the Armenian military and dodge responsibility for Armenia’s defeat in the war in hopes of “retaining power at any cost.”
The general was fired as chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff in early March after he and four dozen other high-ranking officers accused Pashinian’s government of misrule and demanded its resignation. The demand was hailed by Armenian opposition groups but rejected as a coup attempt by Pashinian.
Gasparian challenged his sacking in court. Pashinian has repeatedly attacked him during the election campaign.
Karapetian endorsed Kocharian on Monday. In a written statement, he said the ex-president can “get the country out of the crisis,” “quickly restore our security system” and make Armenia a “predictable and trustworthy partner” for foreign powers.
“He will create an environment where our society’s potential will be realized in full and we will have a national, modern, rational and efficient state,” added the statement.
Kocharian and Karapetian met at the ex-president’s election campaign headquarters in Yerevan and dined at a restaurant in Gyumri in the following days. A short video released by Kocharian’s Hayastan (Armenia) alliance showed the two men strolling in downtown Gyumri late on Wednesday.
Hayastan is widely seen as the main opposition challenger of Pashinian and his Civil Contract Party. It was due to conclude its election campaign late on Friday with a rally at Yerevan’s central Republic Square.
Karapetian was appointed as prime minister in September 2016 by then President Serzh Sarkisian. The former business executive ceded that post to Sarkisian and was named first deputy prime minister in April 2018 after the latter engineered Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary system of government.
Karapetian became the country’s acting prime minister just one week later, after Sarkisian resigned amid Pashinian-led mass protests against his continued rule. But he too had to step down after the former Armenian parliament reluctantly elected Pashinian prime minister in May 2018.
Sarkisian now leads another opposition bloc running in the June 20 elections.