President Serzh Sarkisian is likely to reappoint the current head of a parliamentary oversight body to another six-year term despite strongly criticizing his activities earlier this year, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Tuesday.
Ishkhan Zakarian has managed the Audit Chamber, formally subordinate to the Armenian parliament, for the past six years and is due to be reappointed or replaced by another official this month. Under Armenian law, Sarkisian has to propose a candidate for the post to the National Assembly dominated by his loyalists.
“I not only consider his reappointment possible but also believe that the same candidate should again be nominated,” Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s HHK, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He said Zakarian deserves to keep his job because of the “positive” track record of the Audit Chamber, a body tasked with inspecting financial operations of various state institutions.
The chamber caused a storm in the Armenian political arena in June with a report on alleged abuses in the handling of procurements by some government ministries. Zakarian, went further, saying that much of government spending might has been misused or wasted in recent years.
Those claims prompted angry rebuttals from the government and President Sarkisian in particular. Sarkisian accused Zakarian of exceeding his legal powers. He went on to call for amendments to an Armenian law regulating the work of the oversight body. This prompted opposition concerns that its powers could be curtailed soon.
Opposition lawmakers recalled Zakarian’s allegations as they commented on his political future on Tuesday. They complained that no senior government officials have been prosecuted in connection with those claims so far.