By Irina Hovannisian
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian moved closer to becoming Armenia’s new prime minister on Friday as his governing Republican Party (HHK) said it will likely nominate him for the post.
The HHK’s governing board headed by Sarkisian is scheduled to meet on Monday and discuss the question of who should succeed Andranik Markarian, the previous prime minister and party chairman who died of a heart attack on March 25. HHK leaders and President Robert Kocharian have reportedly agreed that the next premier should also be a Republican.
“Since a political agreement has been reached to leave the post of prime minister to the Republican Party, the April 2 meeting of the HHK council will discuss and decide the HHK candidate for the post,” the party spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, told RFE/RL. “In all likelihood, the board will nominate its chairman, Mr. Serzh Sarkisian.”
“At this point, no other candidacies are being considered,” he said.
Sarkisian was tipped to be appointed prime minister by Kocharian immediately after Markarian’s sudden death. A source in Kocharian’s staff told RFE/RL on Monday that a decision on his appointment has already been made. The presidential press service denied that, however.
Sarkisian was linked with the post even before Markarian’s death. Observers speculated that he will head the Armenian cabinet after the May 12 parliamentary elections as part of his reputed plans to succeed Kocharian as president next year. The HHK’s victory in the polls is essential for the success of those plans.