DEMIRCHIAN’S PARTY SET TO ENDORSE TER-PETROSIAN
By Astghik Bedevian
Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Nov 14 2007
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian said on Wednesday that he will not
stand in the upcoming presidential election and urged his People’s
Party of Armenia (HZhK) to campaign for former President Levon
The HZhK’s governing Council agreed to the proposed endorsement
of Ter-Petrosian after an apparently heated debate that lasted for
over two hours. The decision came as a major boost to Ter-Petrosian’s
efforts to muster broad-based opposition support for his presidential
candidacy, even if it still needs to be approved by the HZhK’s
Ruzan Khachatrian, a party spokeswoman, cautioned that a board approval
is not a forgone conclusion. She said the Board will meet to discuss
the matter later this month or early next.
"Nobody can guarantee that the board will endorse the decision,"
Khachatrian told RFE/RL. "There will definitely be calls, especially
by party representatives from the regions, for Stepan Demirchian to run
for president. It is very hard for us to support another candidate."
Demirchian and his late father Karen contested Armenia’s two previous
presidential elections and claimed to have been robbed of victory
by President Robert Kocharian. Their strong performances turned the
HZhK into the most popular opposition force. The center-left party
has lost much of its popularity in recent years, failing to win a
single parliament seat in last May’s legislative elections. But it
still claims to have tens of thousands of members.
According to Khachatrian, Demirchian told HZhK council members that
unlike Ter-Petrosian, he can no longer build an opposition coalition
around his presidential bid and would therefore stand no chance of
defeating Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. She quoted Demirchian as
also arguing that Ter-Petrosian is ready to admit mistakes committed
by his administration. Some council members remained unconvinced,
urging their leader to have another shot at the presidency, she said.
Ter-Petrosian underlined the importance he attaches to securing the
HZhK’s backing on November 1 when he visited the party headquarters
in downtown Yerevan to meet dozens of party activists and answer
their questions. He also made a point of visiting an adjacent museum
dedicated to Karen Demirchian, Armenia’s popular Soviet-era leader
assassinated in the October 1999 attack on parliament.
The parliament killings were a major theme of Ter-Petrosian’s lengthy
speech at an October 26 rally in Yerevan. Echoing the lingering
suspicions of the late Demirchian’s relatives and supporters,
Ter-Petrosian effectively implicated Kocharian in orchestrating