By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday that he will run for president next year and is ready to form a coalition government despite his Republican Party’s landslide victory in the weekend parliamentary election.
In his first public comments to the media after the announcement of the official election results, Sarkisian admitted being “positive” about contesting the presidential ballot due in less than a year from now. “The elections showed that our party got a serious vote of confidence, and if the party decides so, I will definitely run,” he said.
The outcome of the elections and its endorsement by the West gave a serious boost to Sarkisian’s increasingly obvious plans to succeed President Robert Kocharian.
Sarkisian insisted that the election results, dismissed as fraudulent by the opposition, reflected the electorate’s will and said the Republicans (HHK) will do their best to ensure that the 2008 election is assessed even more positively by the international community. “We are satisfied with the election results and have now an objective,” he said. The objective is to make sure that our people and European partners judge the next elections to be in full compliance with European standards.”
The HHK will have at least 65 seats in the 131-member National Assembly and will be assured of the backing of several other lawmakers, putting it in a position to form Armenia’s new government alone. But Sarkisian said he wants his government to be as broad-based as possible and is already negotiating with potential coalition partners.
“I have said that the more political forces are included in the government, the more trusted that government will be,” he said. “We are ready to cooperate with any political force, with any capable individual,” he added without elaborating.
The HHK’s most likely coalition partners are the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of businessman Gagik Tsarukian and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Sarkisian, who replaced the late Prime Minister Andranik Markarian in late March, spoke to journalists after securing the formal approval of his government’s program by Armenia’s outgoing parliament. The procedure was a mere constitutional formality that will allow the current cabinet to serve until the newly elected National Assembly holds its first session on May 31. Under the Armenian constitution, the entire must step down on the same say.