Samvel Babayan and Masis Mayilian (on right) during Karabakh cease-fire talks in Moscow in May 1994. Image grab from Youtube.

Foreign minister Masis Mayilian’s presidential campaign has received the backing of Samvel Babayan’s Unified Homeland Party, the two campaigns reported on February 12. Babayan previously sought to run for president himself, but has been disallowed due to the 10-year residency requirement. Babayan’s party is running for parliament, however, and is currently seen as one of several lists likely to win seats.  Both presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on March 31.

Mayilian made public his intention to seek the presidency last August, soon after it became clear that Babayan would be unable to run. The foreign minister has since received the backing of a few smaller parties.

According to Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper run by the family of Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, another presidential hopeful Hayk Khanumyan might have difficulties with residency qualification as well. Khanumyan previously backed Babayan and could potentially become another key supporter of Mayilian’s candidacy.

Mayilian’s main competition is from Artsakh’s former prime minister Arayik Harutyunyan, widely seen as a frontrunner, though without majority support, as well as retired general Vitaly Balasanyan.

Mayilian and Balasanyan are also past allies, having challenged the outgoing president Bako Sahakyan in 2007 and 2012 elections, respectively. The two have taken opposite views of Armenia’s new leader, however. Whereas Mayilian and Pashinyan are on friendly terms, Balasanyan has become one of prime minister’s harshest critics.