The Orinats Yerkir Party of Artur Baghdasarian, a key political ally of President Serzh Sarkisian, announced on Wednesday its decision to pull out of Armenia’s government, adding a new twist to political uncertainty in the country.
Senior Orinats Yerkir figures announced the move, anticipated since Tuesday, as they met the press after a meeting of the party’s governing board. A board statement presented by them said that throughout its six-year involvement in the Sarkisian administration the party has lacked levers to have a “real role in the government” and to genuinely share power with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (BHK). It also implicitly complained about the president’s failure to appoint Baghdasarian as prime minister.
Heghine Bisharian, the number two figure in the party hierarchy, made clear that Baghdasarian will resign as secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council. But she said all three members of the outgoing cabinet affiliated with Orinats Yerkir -- Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian, Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian and Urban Development Minister Samvel Tadevosian -- will resign from the party.
The three ministers had to tender their resignations after Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian unexpectedly stepped down on April 3. It is not clear whether they will be reappointed to a new cabinet to be formed by Sarkisian’s successor, Hovik Abrahamian.
Baghdasarian himself made no statements on the development on Wednesday. Bisharian and another leading member of Orinats Yerkir, Hovannes Markarian, said he will hold a news conference on April 25.
They dismissed suggestions by some media commentators and radical oppositionists that Orinats Yerkir will now play the role of a “bogus opposition” to help President Sarkisian ward off mounting challenges to his rule.
Baghdasarian has been a staunch presidential ally ever since he finished third in a 2008 presidential election that formalized the handover of power from President Robert Kocharian to Serzh Sarkisian. Orinats Yerkir as well as two other parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun, joined a coalition government formed by Sarkisian after the disputed ballot.
Dashnaktsutyun and the BHK withdrew from the coalition for different reasons in 2009 and 2012 respectively. They have increasingly cooperated with more radical opposition parties that do not recognize the president’s legitimacy. Tigran Sarkisian’s resignation is widely regarded as being the result of that cooperation.
Orinats Yerkir has backed all key government measures taken in recent months, including a highly controversial reform of the national pension system. Its top representatives did not publicly criticize President Sarkisian on Wednesday.
Baghdasarian’s party holds 6 seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament.