The Armenian parliament is set to elect its new speaker next week after nearly a month of effectively having no permanent chairperson.
The majority Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) confirmed through a spokesman on Tuesday that the party will name its candidate for the position before the legislative body is due to convene next Monday for a four-day session with the election of a new speaker on its agenda.
The post of parliament speaker became vacant after its previous holder, Hovik Abrahamian, formally stepped down on November 14. About two weeks before that Abrahamian had announced his intention to resign, saying that Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, who is also the leader of the ruling party, offered him to manage the HHK campaign for the next parliamentary elections due in May.
The HHK, which controls the majority of seats in the 131-member body, is in a position to name the new speaker and one of his or her deputies under a power-sharing deal with its two junior coalition partners, the Prosperous Armenia Party and Orinats Yerkir (Rule of Law Party).
HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said the party has not yet formally discussed possible candidates for the positions. But the HHK’s deputy head Galust Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) last week that Samvel Nikoyan, one of the two deputy speakers who took over as acting speaker last week, was likely to be the prime choice if they were to elect a permanent speaker before the end of the current parliament’s term next May.
Sharmazanov did not exclude that possibility, but said formal discussions would not commence until after the return of President Sarkisian, who is on a two-day official visit to Georgia beginning November 29.
Meanwhile, Sharmazanov himself is said to be a candidate for the post of deputy speaker should Nikoyan be approved as speaker.
Both Sharmazanov and his fellow HHK lawmaker Hovannes Sahakian did not either confirm or deny this possibility when contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am).
The two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament, namely the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Heritage, have so far seemed unenthusiastic to contest the vacant positions in the coalition-dominated chamber’s leadership.