Hovik Abrahamian is almost certain to become the speaker of Armenia’s newly elected parliament more than six months after unexpectedly resigning as chairman of the previous National Assembly.
The governing Executive Body of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the official winner of the May 6 parliamentary elections, nominated him for the post at a late-night meeting chaired by President Serzh Sarkisian.
The decision was predicted by Samvel Nikoyan, the outgoing parliament speaker, earlier in the day. Nikoyan said his own candidacy will not be considered by the Executive Body.
Abrahamian already held the post from 2008 through 2011. He stepped down last November, ostensibly to manage the HHK’s unfolding election campaign. He dismissed at the time media speculation that he was forced to quit because of being regarded as a potential backer of former President Robert Kocharian’s possible bid to return to power.
The new Armenian parliament will hold its first session on Thursday. The HHK will hold 69 seats in the 131-member legislature and can count on the backing of six deputies from the Orinats Yerkir Party, a junior partner in the outgoing governing coalition.
According to Galust Sahakian, an HHK deputy chairman, the ruling party will sign a power-sharing “memorandum of cooperation” with Orinats Yerkir in the coming days. Orinats Yerkir has three ministerial portfolios in Sarkisian’s current cabinet.
Sahakian spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) as he and dozens of other parliament deputies received their mandates during a ceremony held at the Central Election Commission. Lawmakers from the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party boycotted the ceremony in protest against official results of the May 6 elections which they consider fraudulent. The Orinats Yerkir deputies were also absent but for unknown reasons.
The HHK leadership also decided on Wednesday that the two posts of deputy parliament speaker will be occupied by other senior members of the ruling party: Eduard Sharmazanov and Hermine Naghdalian.
Samvel Balasanian, an outgoing vice-speaker representing the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), confirmed earlier in the day that none of those positions will be given to the BHK, which finished second in the elections.
The BHK, which has been represented in the current government by four ministers, decided last week not to sign a new power-sharing agreement with the Republicans. Balasanian said it will now be in “constructive opposition” to the Sarkisian administration.
“We will act as an alternative to the current authorities,” said Vartan Oskanian, another senior BHK figure.