Armenia’s ruling Republican Party (HHK) will wait to see what political messages one of its top critics, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), sends to the public at a convention scheduled for next month, a spokesman said.
According to Deputy Parliament Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, the meeting of the HHK’s executive body held late on Thursday did not discuss any issue related to the BHK.
On February 12, the HHK council held a meeting dealing entirely with the domestic political situation created after BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian mounted a serious challenge to the current administration.
Apparently infuriated by Tsarukian’s “ultimatum” to give up the planned constitutional reform or face large-scale street protests, President Serzh Sarkisian told the HHK that he heads to exclude the man from the political process. He described Tsarukian as “evil” for Armenia and effectively ordered tax audits of his businesses.
In response, Tsarukian and two other opposition leaders agreed to hold a joint rally in Yerevan to demand Sarkisian’s resignation. But a few days later, the BHK leader appeared to have bowed to government pressure that allegedly included detentions of some of his loyalists and inspections of their businesses. In a statement released on February 18 Tsarukian publicly called for a “peaceful way” of settling disputes as his party also called off the rally as a further indication of “truce” between the BHK and the HHK.
Despite all these developments, the HHK still appeared to be firm in its opinion that Tsarukian should quit politics and be engaged in entrepreneurial activities only.
Some political observers in Armenia expect the tycoon to announce his decision to leave the top BHK post at the “extraordinary” convention of the party scheduled for March 5.
“We’ll see what the BHK decides on March 5, who remains in politics and who quits, whether they elect a new leader or a new governing body, what program they adopt and what message they have to the public,” Sharmazanov said.
The HHK spokesman also confirmed that President Sarkisian will give his opinion on the planned constitutional reform by the end of March.
Key opposition parties in Armenia claim that the reform turning Armenia into a parliamentary republic is designed by the current administration to extend its rule beyond 2018 when President Sarkisian is due to leave his office. Sarkisian has repeatedly said, however, that he will not seek a top state post after the end of his second and final presidential term.