Many of the government-linked linked businesspeople elected to parliament on an individual basis may be allowed to run for reelection, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Friday.
A senior HHK parliamentarian, Gagik Minasian, said late last month that the party leadership has decided to considerably reduce the number of wealthy entrepreneurs representing it in the National Assembly.
Citing President Serzh Sarkisian’s recent pledge to separate business and government, Minasian said they will not be on the HHK’s list of candidates who will contest the May 2012 parliamentary elections under the system of proportional representation. But he said this will not apply to wealthy deputies elected in single-seat constituencies.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief HHK spokesman and a deputy parliament speaker, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the presidential party has still not decided whom to nominate in those 41 constituencies. He said it could back many of the serving HHK deputies elected in such districts. The vast majority of those deputies have extensive business interests.
Sharmazanov insisted that this would not contradict President Sarkisian’s pledge. “What the president said wasn’t just about elections,” he said.
“We must make sure that there is no contradiction with the law and that those people who come to the parliament understand that this is their main job. In this sense, I think there will be no serious contradiction and the philosophy behind the president’s statement will be maintained,” Sharmazanov said.
Armenia’s constitution bans members of the National Assembly from engaging in business or doing any paid work. Opposition leaders say this provision has long been flouted by scores of wealthy deputies linked or affiliated with the HHK and other pro-government parties. The ruling coalition denies this, saying that they only own, rather than manage, businesses.