ARF Reiterates Having its Own Candidate for 2008 Presidential Vote

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian Friday reiterated that his party will nominate its own candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.
“I am sure that that person will be a member of the party,” Rustamian said of the presidential candidate.
He said the ARF will convene a congress in autumn to decide the candidate. %u218”Our party will not defend a candidate nominated by other political groups and will not nominate a candidate that was already nominated by another party,” he told journalists at a press conference.
Commenting on National Assembly speaker Tigran Torosian’s statement that a president would be stronger if he had a majority in parliament, Rustamian said that authoritarianism cannot be effective. "Strong authority should be based on rightful concepts.
“There should be mechanisms of balance and restriction in the government. It would be even better if the president represents another political force," explained Rustamian.
Responding to the question where the incumbent president would be after the 2008 presidential election, he said, "I don’t think he would be where the first president is."
“I don’t think the president will back our candidate,” he told reporters. “It will be good if he does. But I’m sure he will back the prime minister,” opined Rustamian.
Nonetheless, Rustamian said he believes that the presidential ballot will be tightly contested and will likely involve two rounds. “I find it very likely that the elections will not end in one round,” he said.
Rustamian, who heads the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee, further announced that his party will open consultations in September with other major political groups, including those opposed to Kocharian, on ways of ensuring the proper conduct of the vote. He confirmed that it is particularly keen to cooperate with Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage party, one of the two opposition forces represented in the new National Assembly.
“There is some ideological similarity between us,” Rustamian said. “Raffi Hovannisian’s approaches are totally acceptable to us. Our relationship has always been constructive and based on [shared support for] national ideology.”
“This enables us to see possibilities of closer cooperation and even some future programs,” he added without elaborating.
At the end of the news conference Rustamian blamed all election flaws on the majoritarian (single-mandate ) election system saying it must be eliminated to ensure clean and fair vote by party lists only.

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