National Democratic Union leader
A professor of mathematics at Yerevan State University, Manukian was one of the leaders of the Soviet-era Nagorno Karabakh movement and, in 1990, was named prime minister of the Soviet Republic of Armenia, shortly after the country had announced its intention to break free from the USSR as an independent state.
Manukian, a native of Gyumri, was a member of the ruling Armenian National Movement of then President Levon Ter-Petrosian, but broke off in 1991 to create his own party, the National Democratic Union. He later resigned as prime minister to run for president that year, though lost to Ter Petrosian. Late in 1992, the Armenian National Movement leader appointed him as defense minister, a post he held until 1993.
Three years later, he was Ter-Petrosian's main competitor in the controversial 1996 presidential election. When the Central Election Commission recognized Ter- Petrosian as the winner, a crowd led by Manukian stormed parliament - the commission's headquarters - in protest. Interior ministry troops eventually regained control.
The bitterness of that election, though, clearly lingers on for the 52-year-old Manukian, who has said that Ter-Petrosian "owes him" for the events of 1996. He calls for deep systemic reforms, including adoption of a new constitution that would turn Armenian into a parliamentary republic.
Manukian's campaign, though, is not a solo act. On February 6, six small parties, including the National Democratic Union and two parties which left the NDU in the late 1990s, announced plans to merge into one party.
Manukian's general popularity has declined over time; he opted not to take part in the 2007 parliamentary vote. Intellectuals who are skeptical of Levon Ter-Petrosian make up the core of his supporters. He travels little, and has a relatively modest election campaign, with few banners or brochures.
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