Former President Robert Kocharian insisted through a spokesman on Friday that he does not aspire to be Armenia’s next prime minister following the surprise resignation of Tigran Sarkisian.
The announcement of Sarkisian’s resignation on Thursday evening was followed by speculation that Kocharian is among several candidates for the vacant post considered by President Serzh Sarkisian. The ex-president, who governed Armenia from 1998-2008, has increasingly signaled in the last two years his desire to return to active politics.
“It is not true that Robert Kocharian is a candidate for the post of prime minister,” his spokesman, Victor Soghomonian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). Soghomonian declined to comment on Prime Minister Sarkisian’s resignation.
Kocharian was recently engaged in a bitter war of words with the premier over the Armenian government’s economic track record. He began attacking the government in December in response to Tigran Sarkisian’s claims that Armenia’s economy grew at double-digit rates during his rule because of a construction “bubble.” Kocharian accused Sarkisian of “moral degradation.”
President Sarkisian effectively sided with his prime minister in the row in late January. He has so far made no public statements on the resignation or given any indications as to who the next premier might be.
The resignation came shortly after Armenia’s four main opposition parties agreed to put forward a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government and hold joint rallies in Yerevan later this month. The largest of them, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), is led by Gagik Tsarukian, a wealthy businessman close to Kocharian. Some political observers have long regarded the BHK as the ex-president’s main support base.
Tsarukian met on Friday with parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian in the National Assembly. Neither man made any statements on the meeting.
Stepan Markarian, a senior BHK lawmaker, asserted that Tsarukian’s party, which was part of the governing coalition until June 2012, is not keen to get hold of the prime minister’s post. “We have no such objective,” he told reporters.
Asked whether the BHK is ready to support another prime minister affiliated with the ruling Republican Party, Markarian said, “If a Republican Party member is appointed and sticks to the same government program we will continue with what we have stated.”