The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has reacted sharply to calls by the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) for a far-reaching constitutional reform, saying that they are the work of power-hungry individuals lurking behind its former coalition partner.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman and deputy parliament speaker, said late on Wednesday that “people who have no chance of coming to power with their own face and without being shrouded” are behind the BHK’s “sudden” support for Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic.
“This is more than evident. It’s obvious where this primitive step was developed,” Sharmazanov said without naming names.
It was not clear if Sharmazanov referred to former President Robert Kocharian, with whom BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian has had a close relationship.
Some Armenian commentators believe that Tsarukian’s and his party’s political activities are guided by Kocharian. Accordingly, they see a close connection between Kocharian’s alleged desire to return to active politics and a deterioration of Tsarukian’s rapport with President Sarkisian, which led to the BHK’s withdrawal from the ruling coalition in June.
A senior BHK figure, Naira Zohrabian, said on Tuesday that Tsarukian’s party believes the winner of Armenia’s upcoming presidential election should enact constitutional amendments that would seriously curtail presidential powers by 2017. She said the BHK will hold talks with other Armenian parties soon to “see if there is any possibility of rallying around this idea” ahead of the election slated for February.
Zohrabian rejected Sharmazanov’s claims on Thursday. “That decision was entirely ours,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It’s up to the Republican Party to decide whether to participate in discussions.”
Zohrabian also said that she and other BHK lawmakers have started touring various regions of the country to gauge the election-related mood of local BHK activists. She said they can already see that the dominant view among the activists is that Tsarukian should run for president.
The BHK leadership has still not announced whether it will back Sarkisian’s reelection bid or nominate its own candidate.