Third-Place Candidate Reportedly in Coalition Talks With Sarkisian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Opposition leader Artur Baghdasarian is discussing with Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian the possibility of joining a new coalition government which Armenia’s president-elect has pledged to form after taking office, a pro-government lawmaker said on Thursday.
Sarkisian has offered to defuse rising political tensions in Armenia by cutting a power-sharing deal with those “constructive” opposition forces that will recognize his victory in last week’s disputed presidential election. He said on Wednesday that several of his election challengers have responded positively to the offer.
In the words of Eduard Sharmazanov, a parliament deputy and spokesman for Sarkisian’s Republican Party, those include Baghdasarian and his Orinats Yerkir Party. “We are now discussing that with Orinats Yerkir as well,” he told reporters.
According to the Central Election Commission, Baghdasarian won over 16 percent of the vote, trailing both Sarkisian and the main opposition candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. The former parliament speaker on Tuesday described the February 19 vote as deeply flawed but stopped short of challenging the legitimacy of Sarkisian’s victory. He promised to ascertain his and his party’s position by Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ter-Petrosian supporters marched past the OSCE office in Yerevan on Thursday Ter-Petrosian’s appeal to Western powers to back his deman’s for a re-run of Armenia’s disputed presidential election.
In a speech before a crowd that filled the city’s Liberty Square for the ninth consecutive day, Ter-Petrosian criticized Western observers for calling the vote largely democratic and portrayed his ongoing street protests as a pro-democracy movement based on liberal democratic values.
“So the West, the European countries, the United States of America and their international organizations must make the following choice. Either they are with the people of Armenia — and that means standing for democracy, the rule of law and a market-based economy — or with Armenia’s kleptocratic, rotten regime,” said Ter-Petrosian.

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