By Irina Hovannisian
President Robert Kocharian looked set on Tuesday to appoint Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian as Armenia’s new prime minister after the latter was formally nominated for the post by his governing Republican Party (HHK).
The HHK’s board unanimously approved the nomination at a meeting late on Monday. A party spokesman said the next day that a presidential decree naming Sarkisian prime minister as a forgone conclusion.
The official, Eduard Sharmazanov, pointed to an agreement reportedly reached by Kocharian and leaders of the HHK and two other parties represented in his government the day after the May 25 death of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. “On March 26 President Kocharian held a meeting with representatives of the political majority, during which it was decided that the Republican Party will continue to control post of prime minister and that its board will nominate a relevant candidacy,” he said.
“The Republican Party has a number of ministers in the government, but I believe the most suitable person for this post is Serzh Sarkisian,” Tigran Torosian, the parliament speaker and a senior HHK member, told reporters after the board meeting. Sarkisian’s candidacy is also supported by the two other governing parties, he said.
Kocharian’s consultations with his top political allies coincided with the collective resignation of Armenia’s entire cabinet of ministers. Under the Armenian constitution, Kocharian must pick Markarian’s replacement on Wednesday at the latest.
Some observers he is trying to delay the appointment as much as possible in order to make sure that it is not discussed and approved by Armenia’s outgoing and largely moribund parliament. The constitution gives the newly appointed prime minister 20 days to form a cabinet, which will have another 20 days to submit its program to the National Assembly. That means the current assembly will be unable to debate and vote on that program before the May 12 parliamentary elections.
The new premier and his cabinet must step down immediately after the elections in any case.