Arf Will Have Its Own Presidential Candidate


August 4, 2007

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen
Rustamian Friday reiterated that his party will nominate its own
candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.

"I am sure that that person will be a member of the party," Rustamian
said of the presidential candidate.

He said the ARF will convene a congress in the fall to decide on the
candidate. "Our party will not defend a candidate nominated by other
political groups and will not nominate a candidate that was already
nominated by another party," he told journalists at a press conference.

Commenting on National Assembly speaker Tigran Torosian’s statement
that a president would be stronger if he had a majority in parliament,
Rustamian said that authoritarianism cannot be effective. "Strong
authority should be based on rightful concepts. … There should be
mechanisms of balance and restriction in the government. It would
be even better if the president represents another political force,"
he explained.

Asked where the incumbent president would be after the 2008
presidential election, he said, "I don’t think he would be where the
first president is."

"I don’t think the president will back our candidate," he told

"It will be good if he does but I’m sure he will back the prime
minister," Rustamian said.

Nonetheless, Rustamian said he believes that the presidential ballot
will be tightly contested and will likely involve two rounds. "I find
it very likely that the elections will not end in one round," he said.

Rustamian, who heads the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations
committee, further announced that the ARF will hold consultations
in September with other major political groups, including those
opposed to Kocharian, on ways of ensuring the proper conduct of the
vote. He confirmed that it is particularly keen to cooperate with
Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage Party, one of the two opposition forces
represented in the new National Assembly.

"There is some ideological similarity between us," Rustamian said.

"Hovannisian’s approaches are totally acceptable to us. Our
relationship has always been constructive and based on [shared support
for] national ideology. … This enables us to see possibilities of
closer cooperation and even some future programs," he added without

At the end of the news conference, Rustamian blamed flaws in the
elections on the majoritarian (single-mandate) election system,
saying it must be eliminated to ensure clean and fair voting by party
lists only.