Hovannisian Still Undecided

By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Radio Liberty, Czech Republic
Feb 4 2008

Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian insisted on Monday that he has
not yet decided to endorse any of Armenia’s presidential candidates
despite claims to the contrary made by some of them.

One candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, claimed on Friday
that Hovannisian and another opposition leader, Artur Baghdasarian,
have agreed to back his presidential bid. Baghdasarian, who is also
running for president, left open at the weekend the possibility of his
endorsement by Ter-Petrosian and the popular leader of the opposition
Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

Speaking to RFE/RL and Noyan Tapan news agency, Hovannisian admitted
negotiating with both opposition candidates but said the talks have
yielded no definitive results yet. In his words, Zharangutyun will
make a final decision on the matter by the end of this week.

"I am glad that everyone is speaking up and making presumptions," said
the U.S.-born politician. "But nobody has grounds to make statements
on behalf of the Zharangutyun party."

Zharangutyun’s leadership indicated last month that the party will
not throw its weight behind any of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s
four main challengers unless at least one of them pulls out of the
race if favor of another candidate.

Hovannisian, who himself is not eligible for the Armenian presidency,
said this remains the main precondition for his party’s direct
involvement in the election. "No matter how much public support
candidates have separately, it is impossible to achieve victory in
the existing conditions," he said.

"Armenia needs a big and long-term unification [of opposition forces,]
rather than yet another short-term unification," added Hovannisian

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