Armenia polls set to go ahead despite attack

Armenia's presidential elections are set to go ahead as scheduled on February 18 after a candidate injured in an apparent assassination bid said Tuesday he would not press for a delay.

Veteran politician and Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan was wounded in the shooting attack last week, in a crime that rocked the political establishment in the Caucasus state.

Under the Armenian constitution, Hayrikyan had the right to ask the courts for a two-week delay in the elections. But his lawyer said he would not take up this option.

"Hayrikyan will not take the right allowed to him under the constitution and will not ask for a two-week delay," his lawyer Levon Bagdasaryan told reporters in Yerevan.

Looking pale but neatly dressed, Hayrikyan made an unexpected and brief appearance at his lawyers' press conference.

"Terror can't derail me from my political path," he told reporters.

"The attack has been made not only against me, but against the values I am fighting for -- democracy and human rights," he added before returning to the hospital.

Bagdasaryan said that "the aim of the organisers was to kill Hayrikyan and force the authorities to postpone the elections. We decided not to give the criminals a chance to reach their goals."

Incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian is widely expected in the election to hold off a challenge from seven other candidates including Hayrikyan, the head of the Union for National Self-Determination.

A Soviet-era dissident and veteran politician, Hayrikyan, 63, spent several years in prisons as a prominent proponent of Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union.