The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) partially unveiled on Tuesday the list of its parliamentary election candidates which is topped by Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian and does not include Prime Minister Karen Karapetian.
The HHK’s governing board headed by President Serzh Sarkisian picked mainly young figures for the top ten positions on the list. Amon them are the 33-year-old Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian, 38-year-old Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian and the 41-year-old former Education Minister Armen Ashotian.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, confirmed that Karapetian was not deemed eligible to stand in the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2.
Armenia’s constitution stipulates that only those citizens who have permanently resided in the country for the past four years can run for the National Assembly. Karapetian worked in Russia from 2011 until Sarkisian appointed him as prime minister in September 2016.
The Armenian president made clear in November that Karapetian will stay on as prime minister if the ruling party wins the 2017 elections. But he did not say whether he plans to succeed Karapetian or install another premier after completing his second and final term in April 2018.
Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) and Prime Minister Karen Karapetian at an awards ceremony at the presidential palace in Yerevan, 28Jan2017.
Sharmazanov again declined to shed light on Sarkisian’s political future or say whether the defense minister’s top position on the HHK slate is a prelude to his eventual prime ministerial appointment.“I don’t know what will happen after 2018,” he told reporters after the board meeting.
Vigen Sargsian, 41, worked as chief of the presidential staff before taking up the ministerial position in October. He holds a master’s degree from the U.S. Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and taught international relations and public administration at the American University of Armenia form 2001-2011.
Sharmazanov, 41, who is seventh on the HHK list of candidates, claimed the dominant electoral role of the relatively young figures like Sargsian is further proof that the party is “determined to implement reforms in all areas of public life.”
Sharmazanov also announced that Serzh Sarkisian will be personally overseeing the HHK’s election campaign.
The party’s longtime election campaign manager, former Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian, quit the HHK and traded verbal barbs with the head of state late last month.