YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Noyan Tapan)–Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission on Friday formally registered all 12 candidates vying for presidency in the March 16 election. Following a three hour debate–Acting President and Prime Minister Robert Kocharian was also registered.
Seven of twenty members of the CEC–mainly representatives of opposition candidates–voted against Kocharian’s registration. The Armenian Constitution stipulates that only citizens who have "permanently" lived in Armenia for ten years can qualify as presidential candidates. Kocharian was born in Karabakh and lived most of his life there. Many consider his citizenship status to be unclear. He ruled the disputed enclave from 1992 to 1997–when he was appointed Armenian prime minister.
However–a Kocharian representative to the CEC argued that the prime minister is eligible to run for president because a 1989 decision by the parliamen’s of then-Soviet Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to unite into a single republic is still in force. He said Yerevan does not consider the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state and therefore the disputed region is part of Armenia.
The representative was supported by CEC chairman Khachatur Bezirjian and the Armenian interior and national security ministry–who presented an appropriate document.