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Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian on Monday did not rule out his early resignation but denied having any major differences with President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).


Asked by journalists to comment on media reports that the HHK will soon tell him to stand down, he said: “In my case, it’s possible. The main thing is that [resignation] is out of question in Serzh Sarkisian’s case. But it’s possible in the National Assembly chairman’s case.”

“Because there is still nobody who could replace Serzh Sarkisian. I don’t see anyone,” added Abrahamian

Armenian newspapers critical of the government have claimed over the past year that the HHK leadership suspects Abrahamian of trying to undercut Sarkisian and maintaining secret ties with the ruling party’s junior coalition partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). According to the most recent newspaper speculation, Abrahamian will join the BHK and challenge Sarkisian in the 2013 presidential election.

Abrahamian brushed aside such claims. “Unlike some people, I don’t switch sides,” he said.

Armenia -- Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian (second from left) attends an official reception with President Serzh Sarkisian, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and Catholicos Garegine II, 7Feb2011.
The influential speaker downplayed the fact that unlike President Sarkisian, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and other senior state officials, he no longer wears an HHK lapel pin. “I’m an HHK member by spirit, not by lapel pin,” he said,

Abrahamian insisted that that the fact that his younger son is married to one of BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian’s daughters has no political implications. He went on to express confidence that the BHK will soon endorse Sarkisian’s reelection bid.

Tsarukian’s party has so far been reluctant to do that, prompting rebukes from senior Republicans. Friction between the two governing parties has been on the rise of late.

A wealthy businessman, Abrahamian lives and holds sway in the Ararat province south of Yerevan. The regional capital Artashat and nearby villages have long been regarded by government critics as his fiefdom.

Abrahamian unexpectedly became parliament speaker in September 2008. He is thought to have been more powerful in his previous capacity as deputy prime minister and minister local government. He also managed the HHK’s and Sarkisian’s election campaigns in the last parliamentary and presidential elections.

“To be honest, I used to want to be prime minister,” the 53-year-old speaker admitted on Monday. “But not anymore. My current post is higher than the post of prime minister.”
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