YEREVAN — In what was his first public speech in six months delivered over the weekend, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian declined to clarify whether he will run in Armenia’s upcoming presidential election. “Please wait for a couple of more days,” Ter-Petrosian told a congress of the Armenian National Movement (ANM), the largest of the parties making up his Armenian National Congress (ANC) alliance. “I have appealed to all big powers: America, China, Russia, the European Union. Until I secure their approval I will not be able to give you my answer. They are now fretting over their strategy. They have promised to answer me in two days time,” he said jokingly. The ANC leader, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, made no election-related announcements as of Monday evening. Ter-Petrosian was widely expected to end the lingering uncertainty over his political future at the ANM congress. He had kept a low profile since the ANC’s most recent rally that was held in Yerevan in late June. On Saturday, Raffi K. Hovannisian formally announced his candidacy for the Armenian presidency. In advance of the elections, scheduled for February 2013, he publicized his decision during a Citizens’ Assembly convened at the Armenia Marriott Hotel. “All of us must become more citizen than civil, more nation than nationalistic, more liberty than liberal, more spirit than spiritual, and more Republic than republican. Because Armenia is free, independent, and united through us, our will power, and our common path. Armenia: the one and only. On February 18, 2013, our people finally must take action–one time and together,” he said. Upon conclusion of Raffi Hovannisian’s keynote remarks, the previous day’s decision of the Heritage Party’s executive board was presented to the assembled citizens for affirmation. The civic assembly and the Heritage Party delegates, as one, raised their hands in unanimous approval. On Monday, former Prime Minister of Armenia Hrant Bagratian also announced his candidacy for President during the Azatutyun (Freedom) political party convention. Bagratian, who served as prime minister from 1993-1996, indicated that he will accept the nomination. Bagratian said late last week that he would like to run for president if Ter-Petrosian decides not to enter the fray. He was less categorical on that score on Monday. “I have an excellent rapport with President Ter-Petrosian, and I don’t think we will ever have problems by standing in each other’s way. I have no such intention,” he told Azatutyun delegates. “But life is moving on and there are new realities.” The ex-premier added that his main goal is to consolidate “liberal” opposition groups and present them as a credible alternative to the Sarkisian administration.
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