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Armenian Opposition Won’t Field Presidential Candidate


Armenia - Senor lawmakers from the opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances talk during a parliament session in Yerevan, August 24, 2021.

The two opposition forces represented in Armenia’s parliament have decided not to nominate a candidate for the new president of the republic who will be elected by lawmakers in the coming weeks.

In a joint statement released on Friday, the Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances slammed the presidential candidate fielded by the ruling Civil Contract party and said they do not want to legitimize his almost certain election.

The candidate, Vahagn Khachatrian, has served as minister of high-tech industry in Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet since August. Khachatrian was officially nominated on Wednesday ten days after former President Armen Sarkissian unexpectedly stepped down.

Civil Contract controls enough parliament seats to install the 62-year-old economist as head of states. He will have largely ceremonial powers.

The opposition statement claimed that Khachatrian is a partisan figure who does not correspond to constitutional provisions requiring the presidency to be a “really neutral institution consolidating the society.” It said such consolidation is especially necessary now that Armenia is facing “extremely serious internal and external challenges.”

“But this regime, which has put the country on the brink of destruction and split the society, decided to stick to its practices and to be guided by only parochial, rather than national, interests,” added the statement.

Hayastan and Pativ Unem therefore “will not participate in any way in the election of the president of the republic,” it said.

Speaking with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service later in the day, Khachatrian said he regrets the opposition decision. He expressed readiness to meet with opposition leaders and discuss their concerns.

Asked whether he will try to win the backing of opposition lawmakers ahead of the vote, Khachatrian said: “I just don’t know ways of doing that.”

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