Armenia polls to go ahead despite candidate attack

Armenia's presidential elections will be held as scheduled on February 18 after a candidate injured in an apparent assassination attempt withdrew Monday his demand to delay the elections.

Candidate Paruyr "Hayrikyan, has withdrawn on Monday his demand to postpone the presidential elections by two weeks," Armenia's Constitutional Court spokesman, Hovannes Papikian, told AFP.

"I had the right to an equal electoral campaign, but my rights have been violated," Hayrikyan told journalists.

"I decided not use my lawful right (to postpone the vote) so that no bastard could affect the democratic processes in the country," he said.

Armenia's presidential election is set for February 18 but doubts over whether it would take place as scheduled were raised when Hayrikyan was shot in the chest in the capital Yerevan on January 31.

Hayrikyan, head of the Union For National Self-Determination, initially said he would not seek a delay, but on Sunday he had formally asked authorities to postpone the poll.

He has said that Armenian law allows polls to be postponed by two weeks if a candidate is deemed to have suffered an insurmountable obstacle.

Armenia's security service says it has arrested two men over the attack on the 63-year-old veteran politician and Soviet-era dissident.

Hayrikyan, 63, spent several years in prisons as a prominent proponent of Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union.

Although a respected figure, Hayrikyan is not seen as a serious challenger to President Serzh Sarkisian who is tipped to win the eight-way race.