YEREVAN — First President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosian signaled at the weekend plans to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections despite his failure to form an alliance with Armenia’s two other ex-presidents.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) party held a congress in Yerevan to formulate a position on the elections slated for June 20. HAK representatives said the final decision will be made this week by a new party board chosen by the delegates.
“If the board decides to participate in the elections … then it’s clear that the duty to top the Congress’s electoral list will be imposed on me,” Ter-Petrosian said in a speech at the congress.
“It’s going to be difficult but the truth is that the Congress’s presence in the [new] parliament is necessary not least for ensuring … that the lantern of reason is not extinguished in the atmosphere of widespread cacophony,” he said.
He said the HAK’s key objective is to scuttle Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s reelection and at the same time prevent former President Robert Kocharian from returning to power.
The HAK did not participate in the last parliamentary elections held in December 2018 six months after a “velvet revolution” that brought Pashinyan to power. It had failed to win any parliament seats in the previous polls held in 2017.
Earlier this month Ter-Petrosian publicly called on Kocharian and the other former Armenian president, Serzh Sarkisian, to lead together with him a broad-based opposition alliance and try to unseat Pashinyan. He said they also must also pledge not to seek the post of prime minister in the event of their bloc’s victory.
Both men turned down the proposal before Ter-Petrosian suggested that the political parties led by him and Sarkisian set up an electoral bloc without Kocharian’s participation. Sarkisian did not accept that proposal either.
Ter-Petrosian hit out at the fellow ex-presidents in his speech at the HAK congress, saying that they are motivated by parochial, rather than national interests. The 76-year-old claimed that Kocharian is keen to “take revenge” on Pashinyan.
Ter-Petrosian’s readiness to join forces with Kocharian and Sarkisian came as a surprise given the long history of mutual antagonism between them. For many years, he was highly critical of his successors’ policies and track records.
Like other opposition figures, all three ex-presidents blame Pashinyan for Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ter-Petrosian said on Sunday that Kocharian and Sarkisian are also responsible for the war and its outcome. He claimed that they opposed compromise solutions to the Karabakh conflict during their rule.