The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a key member of the ruling coalition, remained reluctant to endorse President Serzh Sarkisian’s anticipated reelection bid on Friday despite what appeared to be growing pressure from his Republican Party (HHK).
BHK representatives continued to claim that the HHK has not formally offered their party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian to adopt a common position on Armenia’s next presidential election to be held in 2013.
“I have no such information,” one of them, deputy parliament speaker Samvel Balasanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “There is a [power-sharing] agreement signed by the coalition party leaders [in 2008,] and we have been cooperating under that agreement.”
Galust Sahakian, an HHK deputy chairman, said Wednesday that a common stance on the 2013 election is a key element of a new cooperation framework proposed to the BHK and Orinats Yerkir, the third party represented in Sarkisian’s coalition government. Orinats Yerkir leaders confirmed this.
Hovannes Markarian, a senior Orinats Yerkir parliamentarian, also confirmed Friday media reports that Sarkisian discussed the matter with Tsarukian and other coalition leaders at a special meeting early this week.
“Coalition forces were given until Friday to address that text,” Markarian told journalists. “[The document] also talks about the coalition acting with its own candidate, President Serzh Sarkisian, in the 2013 presidential election.”
Balasanian insisted, however, that the coalition meeting focused on a fresh reform of Armenia’s Electoral Code planned before parliamentary elections due in May 2012. “Some of our coalition partners are making some statements,” said the BHK representative. “That’s probably their personal views. That’s not an official position.”
The Armenian press has for months contended that Tsarukian is under pressure to pledge support for Sarkisian’s reelection or leave the government, in which his party is represented by four ministers. The latest HHK proposal has been construed by some newspaper commentators as a final ultimatum to the BHK.
The proposal came ahead of a BHK congress scheduled for Saturday. In Balasanian’s words, congress delegates will not discuss presidential candidacies or produce any “sensations.”
The pressure on the BHK seemingly rose after bitter recriminations traded by top representatives of the two governing parties over Tsarukian’s claim that former President Robert Kocharian could have taken over the HHK in the past if he had wanted to.
Highlighting his warm ties with Tsarukian, Kocharian backed the tycoon’s claim and launched a broadside against the HHK on Monday. The move stoked lingering speculation that the ex-president has an uneasy rapport with Sarkisian, his longtime associate, and would like to return to government. Some pundits say this is a key reason why Tsarukian is in no rush help the current president win a second term in office.
BHK representatives have repeatedly stated that their party will decide whom to support in 2013 only after the 2012 elections. They have also said the BHK will field its own presidential candidate if it wins the legislative polls.