The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Wednesday that it will not nominate a controversial former regional governor widely blamed for a recent fatal shooting as a candidate in an upcoming parliamentary by-election.
The election will take place on September 29 in a constituency in the southeastern Syunik province. The parliament seat became vacant after the Armenian government appointed its previous holder, Vahe Hakobian, as Syunik governor last month.
Hakobian’s notoriously violent predecessor, Suren Khachatrian, was forced to resign in June amid an outcry caused by the deadly gunfight outside his house in Goris, a town in Syunik. Khachatrian’s son Tigran and one of his bodyguards are currently under arrest on murder charges.
There has been speculation in the Armenian media that the HHK, of which Khachatrian is a senior member, could compensate the ex-governor with a parliament mandate. However, Galust Sahakian, the HHK’s deputy chairman, ruled out such possibility.
“No, I don’t think so,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) when asked about possible HHK support for Khachatrian’s candidacy in the Syunik by-election. “He is not even thinking or talking about that.”
Sahakian said that the ruling party led by President Serzh Sarkisian will pick and nominate an election candidate later this month. “We have many candidates,” he added without elaborating.