ARF Endorses Incumbent Kocharian

ARF CREDITS KOCHARIAN WITH BETTERING DIFFICULT SOCIOECONOMIC SITUATION–APPROVES HIS POLICY ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH AND PRAISES HIS PURSUIT FOR INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

YEREVAN (Yerkir/RFE/RL)–During its November 22-25 National Convention–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) of Armenian overwhelmingly voted to endorse President Robert Kocharian in upcoming presidential elections

During a press conference–ARF parliamentary leader Aghvan Vartanian said the decision was adopted "almost unanimously," declining to specify how many delegates voted against it or abstained. The Convention also credits Kocharian with improving the severe socioeconomic situation–approves his policy on Nagorno-Karabakh and praises his pursuit for international recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

Explaining the widely anticipated decision–Supreme council representative Armen Rustamian–said that the ARF does not expect more government posts in exchange for endorsing Kocharian’s reelection bid. He said that while supporting the incumbent–the party would accept any legitimate winner of the February 19 elections because it believes they must be free and fair.

A citizens’ initiative group consisting of a 100 people will–on Tuesday–nominate Kocharian for president.

About seventy views were expressed during the convention on the issue; taking into account–however–that the political course adopted in 1998 is acceptable and that key issues of the state have been tackled–the ARF decided to support the incumbent president.

Talking about the endorsement–ARF Armenia Supreme Council representative Armen Rustamian said: "We–therefore–are not only supporting him politically–but will also jointly continue and are committed to–in a unified manner–wipe out the drawbacks of this country."

Referring to the opposition’s tactic to oppose and counter every issue–Rustamian voiced concern–saying that denying the positive is dangerous. . . "when they do not see the corrected course."

In promoting free and ideological political struggle–the ARF welcomes any candidate who is elected fairly and by the people.

"We are trying to oppose the other candidates with this endorsement," said Rustamian–adding that–if the country’s political course is opposed to the party’s principles–then the ARF will become a radical opposition no matter who leads the country

The Convention also elected an 11-member Supreme council consisting of: Armen Rustamian (representative)–Mikael Manoukian–Artashes Shahbazian–Aghvan Vartanian–Hrach Tadevosian–Gagik Gevorgian–Gegham Manoukian–Vazrik Petrossian–Artavazd Darbinian–Spartak Seyranian–Vartan Petrossian.

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