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Armenian MPs reluctant to support president’s re-election

The Armenian opposition paper Aravot has asked the leaders of
parliamentary factions whether they support President Robert
Kocharyan’s decision to stand for another five-year term. Most of
the MPs tried to avoid giving a straight answer to the question,
showing, as the paper said, they were less than delighted by the
news. Following is the text of Anna Israelyan report by Armenian
newspaper Aravot on 14 September entitled “Kocharyan currently
has no political support”:

The election race may be considered to have started given Robert
Kocharyan’s announcement that he is going to put himself forward as
a candidate for the post of Armenian president for another five years.

Yesterday [13 September] Aravot asked representatives of the
National Democratic Union [NDU], the Orinats Yerkir
[Law-Governed State] and the ARFD [Armenian Revolutionary
Federation – Dashnaktsutyun] factions and groups of deputies to say
whether they were going to support Robert Kocharyan’s candidacy
or not. Do they have any other candidates? Or will they take a
neutral position, that is do they not have a favourite candidate? We
treated the position of those forces which could come out in support
of Kocharyan as more significant.

The representative of the National Democratic Union, Seyran
Avagyan, was reluctant to answer this question as an extraordinary
congress of the NDU has not yet been convened: “I think that the
processes under way in the NDU are mainly connected with the
phenomenon that journalists and the public are asking questions
about – that is, the political orientation of the party has not yet
defined. We shall specify the political party’s orientation at our next congress.”

The process of impeaching the president has not yet been initiated,
but Orinats Yerkir has already declared it to be groundless. At a
briefing yesterday, the secretary of the group, Gegam Gasparyan,
even predicted that Robert Kocharyan’s impeachment before the
elections was not possible. But when we asked whether they would
support Kocharyan’s candidacy, he responded: “We think that it is
too early to speak about this.”

The leader of the ARFD faction, Agvan Vardanyan, said that though
the president had announced his readiness to stand as a candidate
for the post of president again: “Dashnaktsutyun has not discussed
this question yet. We think that there is a lot of time and we have
time to determine our final position. There may be developments in
the 18 months before the elections and our final position will be
specified later.”

The leader of the Agrarian and Industrialists’ Union group, Mayak
Ovanesyan, regards Kocharyan as “the greatest politician in
contemporary politics” and “a symbol of Karabakh’s national and
liberation struggle”. Yesterday he said he was glad that Kocharyan
intended to stand, assuming that “he is really intending to make
serious positive moves in the next two years. If a person wants to be
re-elected, that means that he can see what he should do.” But Mr
Ovanesyan also deferred answering when asked whether he or his
group would support Kocharyan.

The leader of the People’s Deputy group, Karen Karapetyan,
recalled: “The Constitution stipulates who may be proposed.”
Journalists quickly recalled “those who have been Armenian citizens
for 10 years and who permanently reside in Armenia”. Mr
Karapetyan said: “Any candidate can decide for himself whether he
will put himself forward as a candidate or not. In this case, if he has made such a decision, I regard this as normal.” This group has also
not discussed yet whether or not to support Kocharyan.

The parliamentary majority has also not determined its position on
this question. The leader of the Unity group, Galust Saakyan, noted:
“Today it is impossible to say anything unequivocally. Republicans
will discuss this question when the president presents his new
programme.” When asked whether Kocharyan had implemented his
previous election programme given that the party is waiting for his
new promises and will decide its position according to these
promises, Mr Saakyan said: “We have to wait to make such an
analysis. Some work is already being done to analyse his election
promises and other activities. So we have to wait.”

And so the conclusion. [Passage omitted: extracts from readers’
letters praising Kocharyan] None of the parliamentary political forces
can announce without hesitation that they are delighted with the
domestic and foreign policy conducted by Kocharyan and that they
would like him to run the country for another five years.

We should note that yesterday the leader of the National Accord
Party, Artashes Gegamyan, presented statistics showing that the
economy was in a state of paralysis and asked: “Let us see which
party will support Kocharyan’s candidacy when they become aware
of these figures?”

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